The unprecedented victory of Argentine libertarian economist Javier Milei in Sunday’s presidential election prompted a wave of outrage and dismay among Latin American leftists.
Milei defeated socialist and outgoing Economy Minister Sergio Massa on Sunday by more than 11 percentage points, becoming not just the world’s first libertarian president but also the most-voted president in Argentina’s history, with more than 14.4 million votes.
Milei was immediately congratulated by leaders from the region and the world for his outstanding victory, including former President Donald Trump, who posted the slogan “Make Argentina Great Again” on his Truth Social media platform.
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Javier Milei via Storyful
The mood was far more somber among the region’s leftists.
The most notable leftist meltdown over Milei’s landslide victory came from Colombia’s far-left President Gustavo Petro. Petro, known for causing international incidents with his prolific tweeting, lamented Milei’s victory mere minutes after Massa conceded the presidency. Massa notably conceded before official election results were announced.
“The extreme right has won in Argentina; it is the decision of its society. Sad for Latin America and we shall see. Neo-liberalism no longer has a proposal for society, it cannot respond to the current problems of humanity,” Petro’s message read.
Ha ganado la extrema derecha en Argentina; es la decisión de su sociedad. Triste para América Latina y ya veremos… el neoliberalismo ya no tiene propuesta para la sociedad, no puede responder a los problemas actuales de la humanidad.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) November 19, 2023
Petro’s lamentation was in response to his predecessor, former President Iván Duque, congratulating Milei. Petro eventually followed up his initial message with another one, ultimately congratulating Milei on his victory.
“The relations between Colombia and Argentina, the ties between their peoples will be maintained in mutual respect. I congratulate Milei,” Petro’s second message read. “And we expect from the progressive Argentine the assessments that allow the Latin American peoples to learn from the lessons of history.”
Minutes later, Petro received a now-viral response from Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who told him to “now say it without crying.”
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) November 20, 2023
Brazilian radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a close ally of the outgoing leftist presidency of Alberto Fernández and whose campaign strategists were actively enrolled in Massa’s now-failed presidential campaign, opted to issue a moderate public congratulations message that did not directly mention Milei, simply wishing “good luck and success” to the new Argentine government.
“Democracy is the voice of the people, and it must always be respected,” Lula posted Sunday evening. “My congratulations to the Argentine institutions for conducting the electoral process and to the Argentine people who participated in the election day in an orderly and peaceful manner.”
“I wish the new government good luck and success. Argentina is a great country and deserves all our respect. Brazil will always be available to work together with our Argentine brothers and sisters,” the message continued.
A democracia é a voz do povo, e ela deve ser sempre respeitada. Meus parabéns às instituições argentinas pela condução do processo eleitoral e ao povo argentino que participou da jornada eleitoral de forma ordeira e pacífica.
Desejo boa sorte e êxito ao novo governo. A…
— Lula (@LulaOficial) November 19, 2023
The current Brazilian leftist government, through its Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, expressed in October “concerns” over a possible Milei victory, as Milei, a fierce anti-communist, had repeatedly stated that he would not meet with Lula, describing him as “corrupt” and a “communist.”
Lula had also enthusiastically supported and worked hard behind the scenes for Argentina’s impending entry into the China-led BRICS trade and security bloc, slated to start on January 1, 2024. Milei, who has asserted that he will cut ties with China as he “does not do business with communists,” will take office on December 10, leaving Argentina’s adhesion to the bloc uncertain.
It is not publicly known at press time if Lula will attend Milei’s inauguration. Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost to Lula, became the first confirmed guest for Milei’s inauguration on Monday after his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, shared that the president-elect had called his father.
“I just received a call from Javier Milei, where I congratulated him on his victory and was invited to his inauguration,” Bolsonaro posted on Twitter. “Today Argentina represents a lot for all those who love democracy and breathe freedom.”
– Recebi agora telefonema de Javier Milei, onde o cumprimentei pela vitória, bem como fui convidado para sua posse.
– Hoje a Argentina representa muito para todos aqueles que amam a democracia e respiram liberdade.
– Jair Bolsonaro.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) November 20, 2023
In Bolivia, socialist President Luis Arce wished prosperity to Argentina and success to its Milei.
“We will work so that the relations between our peoples remain firm as before, based on brotherhood, complementarity and mutual respect,” Arce’s message read.
El Estado Plurinacional de #Bolivia siempre será respetuoso de la voluntad democrática de nuestros pueblos. Deseamos prosperidad al hermano pueblo de #Argentina y éxitos a su presidente electo, Javier Milei.
Trabajaremos para que las relaciones entre nuestros pueblos sigan…
— Luis Alberto Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) November 20, 2023
On the other hand, Bolivian socialist strongman Evo Morales, a longstanding ally of Argentina’s outgoing leftist Kircherist government, claimed that “no political circumstance can affect the indestructible brotherhood between the Bolivian people and the Argentine people,” opting not to refer to Milei in his Twitter message.
Outgoing Argentine vice president and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has not publicly commented on Milei’s victory at press time. Fernández de Kirchner, who has kept a low profile for most of the now-concluded 2023 presidential race, is slated to travel to Naples, Italy, to speak at a university on the subject of “democratic dissatisfaction.”
Mexican far-left President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who accused Milei on November 13 of being a “fascist conservative,” did not publicly congratulate Milei. Instead, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement on Monday, congratulating both the Argentine people for their election and Milei for his victory, expressing that it will seek to “maintain a constructive relationship for the benefit of both peoples and the region.”
El @GobiernoMX felicita al pueblo argentino por su participación cívica en las elecciones, así como al candidato vencedor @JMilei, con quien buscaremos mantener una relación constructiva en beneficio de ambos pueblos y de la región.
— Relaciones Exteriores (@SRE_mx) November 20, 2023
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia “respects the choice of the country’s people,” noting that it paid close attention to Milei’s statements during his presidential campaign and that it will now “wait to see if he follows through on his words.”
“We have paid attention to the many statements made by Mr. Milei during the election campaign, but mainly we will be guided and judge by what he says after the inauguration,” Peskov told reporters. “In particular, we are waiting for clarifications on many issues that will affect our bilateral relations.”
Peskov’s statements were in reference to Milei’s repeated assertion that he “does not do business with communists,” his condemnation of Russia over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and his pro-U.S. and pro-Israel stances.
Milei’s support of Ukraine was acknowledged by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy through an early Monday morning message posted on his Twitter account, in which he congratulated Milei for his victory while expressing that he looks forward to working together to strengthen the cooperation between their two nations.
Congratulations to @JMilei on his convincing victory in Argentina’s presidential elections. I appreciate his clear stance in support of Ukraine. I look forward to working together to strengthen our 🇺🇷 cooperation and restore international order based on international law.
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) November 20, 2023
Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported Monday that Russia hopes friendship with Argentina will remain “adherent to multipolarity” after Milei’s election.
“We expect that the course on adherence to multipolarity, independent foreign policy and firm protection of national interests will receive further development,” Russian Ambassador to Argentina Dmitry Feoktistov said. “The future administration has a big work ahead on overcoming the social and economic problems, on strengthening the unity of the society, on increasing the role and weight of Argentina in international affairs.”
He continued, “Regardless of the political conjuncture, we are ready to continue our efforts on development of relations in all areas, to active cooperation on multilateral platforms in the interest of a fair world order.”
The three authoritarian regimes in the region, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, have not issued any public statements or comments at press time.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.