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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 11-07-2023 13:06

In defence of Milei

The debate proposed by La Libertad Avanza is a healthy one, although perhaps tainted by the source of its origin: they are raising it in order to cover up their own financial shenanigans.

Kicking those who are down is a classic bad habit that recognises neither borders nor times. Now it is the turn of Javier Milei and his particular entourage of political operators and armourers.

The trigger was the closing of the lists of candidates for the PASO primaries on August 13, despite the fact that, curiously enough, there is no competition in the libertarian space, by decision of its democratic leader.

Thus it was that, a fortnight ago, complaints began to be made about the buying and selling of places on La Libertad Avanza (LLA) tickets. This procedure had already been exposed by a number of provincial candidates, after the disastrous results obtained by the LLA franchises in the early regional elections. And they had even been anticipated by a semi-covert massista who was once Milei's ally, influencer Carlos Maslatón, who last Friday was in Comodoro Py to ratify his accusations.

From Neuquén, Río Negro, Entre Ríos and especially in different localities in Buenos Aires Province (Tigre, Vicente López, Avellaneda, Villa Gesell, Morón, the Blumberg case and more to come), accusations of the same modus operandi has emerged. People who were asked for money, usually in dollars, in order to get a place on a list. A sort of foretaste of the promised dollarisation, but electoral, if you will.

There were three levels of response to the crisis. The first reaction of Milei and his small table was to dismiss the initial claims, arguing that the perpetrators were people who were hurt by being left off of lists. 

As the accusations multiplied, before expanding into the dangerous area of alleged collusion with sectors of Peronism (in search of dividing opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition's vote), the response began to veer conveniently.

It was then that Milei & Co began to justify the ‘tax collection’ method as a transparent way for the party to finance its campaign. And in passing, because there is no better defence than a good attack, they went on to question how the campaigns of the rest of those running were being sustained. The caste, of course.

The debate proposed by La Libertad Avanza is a healthy one, although perhaps tainted by the source of its origin: they are raising it in order to cover up their own financial shenanigans, about which a federal prosecutor is already investigating. Perhaps he can investigate a mysterious entity called the Fundación Deportes Electrónicos, which is alleged to have received large donations. It would not be the only one.

In case it is necessary to clarify it in this space: it has been said on many occasions that the main political forces in Argentina receive contributions from the state (as Milei will also have done) and private donations governed by the laws on party financing. In a darker tone, there is the use of the state apparatus by whoever is in power (resources, advertising, transport) and funds that are not declared either by those who provide them or by those who receive them. Reading part of the casefiles from the ‘Cuadernos’ case, or ‘Vialidad,’ or ‘Parques Eólicos,’ or so many others) would serve as a practical bibliography. As a newspaper, Perfil has been denouncing this since 2007, when in the campaign for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's first presidency, contributions from the ‘ephedrine mafia’ were detected.

Let's get back to the point. What is curious – or not so curious – about the last few days is that those involved in the savage preaching against politics in various media have begun to stone Milei. It’s striking. On the one hand, because they were the ones who exhibited the libertarian until yesterday as the best showman out there. On the other hand, because they must have seen in him something new and different that the rest of us already saw as more of the same, only with unkempt packaging. In fact, most ignored the libertarian anxiety to get hold of dollars, like the ones Milei collected last year to promote a Ponzi scheme of fraud by the financial company CoinX. Such an on-air volte-face by fellow preachers tempts one to defend Milei a little and not to make firewood out of the fallen tree, when, moreover, the same polls that overvalued him now sink him.

Then came the third phase of libertarian retorts. Unleashed, in his own style, Milei proclaimed himself a victim and claimed that "we are witnessing the biggest defamation campaign in Argentine history." The presidential candidate should read up a little on historical facts.

A little more labyrinthine was his (former) operator Carlos Kikuchi, who was punished with an improbable elective post for the sloppiness of the process of closing of the party’s lists. "The operations and defamations against Milei and our space arise from the fear they have in Juntos por el Cambio. Patricia [Bullrich] because she believes that because of Javier, [Rodríguez] Larreta will win the PASO, and Larreta because he believes that [Diego] Santilli will lose Buenos Aires Province. And the Kircherites because they think they will come third," he wrote.

Kikuchi should be warned that in a long tirade against politics and journalism by his boss, in which he sought to splatter almost everyone with spurious money, he made no mention of two central characters in this type of story: Patricia Bullrich and Mauricio Macri. It is clear that in Milei's eyes, the presidential hopeful and the former president are clean. The double standard of the caste seems to infect the anti-caste.

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Javier Calvo

Javier Calvo

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