Trump welcomes Javier Milei, Argentina’s controversial new leader

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Donald Trump has told advisers he would like to attend the inauguration of Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei, this weekend, although logistical hurdles make the trip unlikely, according to two people who know the matter.

A handful of Republican House members will head to Buenos Aires to be sworn in. Several House conservatives have discussed the possibility of inviting the erratic libertarian political leader to address the chamber, said two others familiar with those internal discussions, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to to show private consideration.

And from Ben Shapiro to Elon Musk, prominent right-wing figures have rallied behind Latin America’s newest head of state, who has frightened other world leaders with far-right publics and promises to demolish the building.

Milei’s neo-liberal views have been deeply disturbing to many viewers around the world. US conservatives, however, see the rise of the self-described “anarcho-capitalist” as an opportunity – both to deepen ties between the United States and Argentina and to reverse the country’s retreat throughout Latin America which is growing. South American countries from Brazil to Colombia have elected left-wing leaders in recent years, leading to what some have called a second “pink tide” in the region that is repeating a trend similar in the 2000s. Milei represents at least a partial rejection of that trend, as he comes to power in the face of staggering inflation and the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades.

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His campaign promises — to shut down the nation’s central bank, for example, and eliminate a wide range of government agencies — are echoing among Washington conservatives who see a second Trump presidency as an opportunity has pushed similar right-wing priorities. Milei and Trump have some differences in terms of economic policy: Trump added trillions of dollars to the US national debt, for example, while Milei has promised major spending cuts in Argentina.

But the many similarities between the brash, wild political outsiders: they share an open disdain for their countries’ governing institutions, an affinity for conspiracy theories and a platform for business to forcefully oppose organized labor.

At a rally in Ankeny, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump praised Milei and described his candidacy as a plea for “Argentina Great Again.”

“You saw what happened: he ran as Trump. It was Trump. ‘Make Argentina Great Again,'” Trump told the crowd. “It was perfect. MAGA. He had a MAGA agenda because it is a conservative agenda.”

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Trump isn’t the only Republican taking notice. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in a statement that Milei’s presidency “will be a great boost to Argentina and to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.”

“The Biden administration has allowed the region to slide away from the United States and toward China, Russia and Iran,” Cruz said. “Milei is committed to reversing these trends, and I look forward to working with him to deepen the US-Argentine relationship.”

Democrats have also contacted Argentina’s new leader. Last week, Milei met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and senior US treasury officials met with senior members of Milei’s team. Chosen in part because of the sky-high inflation plaguing Argentina’s economy, Milei has already spoken to top International Monetary Fund leaders about the outstanding $44 billion loan.

Milei also had lunch in New York City with former president Bill Clinton, a meeting offered because of Clinton’s experience working with Republicans and Democrats to make bold choices to improve the economy, which according to one senior US official. Former Connecticut senator Chris Dodd joined the event, with both Democrats praising the new Argentine president afterward.

One senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal internal considerations, said the administration wanted to send the message that it wants to work with Milei and has the resources to help, if he is interested.

“He’s never been in the federal government before,” the official said. “The ways in which the federal bureaucracy works are all new.”

The senior US official also tried to minimize the relationship and comparisons between Milei and Trump.

“I’m not sure he knows Trump very well,” the senior official said, adding that he doesn’t think Milei would be as pro-Trump if he did. “Trump loves Russia and Putin. This man does not like Russia or Putin.”

Milei has shown strong support for Israel and Ukraine, unlike leftists such as Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who have been skeptical of the US position on the those wars.

However, conservatives see strong potential for ties with the new Milei government, given the way it deals with politics and the economy.

Damian Merlo, a US political strategist and lobbyist who advises El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, coordinated an interview in September between Milei and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. is now streaming a show on social media network X. Merlo, whose parents. Argentine, he traveled to Argentina with Carlson to meet Milei’s team. The lobbyist has advised Milei’s team and helped connect him with Republican politicians in the US

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Since Milei’s victory, Merlo has helped connect Milei’s team with Cruz and Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.). Recently, Milei’s foreign minister, Diana Mondino, spoke with Salazar, who plans to travel to Milei’s inauguration with a delegation of five or six U.S. Republicans, Merlo said.

“What you have in the region is a lot of center left, some far left and a few governments that hate the US,” Merlo said. “For Latin Americans in the Republican Party, it’s good to see a president who saying he wants nothing to do with China, which condemns what is happening in Venezuela and wants nothing to do with Cuba.”

Milei could also benefit from close ties with the US conservative movement. Alliances with Trump and former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro help lend credibility to a president-elect who is even more extreme than either of those two leaders, who at least had experience in America corporate and with the Brazilian military base, according to the Argentine political. analyst Ana Iparraguirre. Trump’s victory next year, in particular, could give Milei political cover to implement some of his more concrete proposals.

The right is also trying to make progress.

Ten conservative House Republicans, led by Reps. Chip Roy (Tex.) and Salazar, a letter last Wednesday congratulating Milei and offering to work with him. “Your message of liberty, freedom, and the promotion of economic prosperity through limited government and fiscal responsibility has united the Argentine people in a historic way,” the letter said.

Grover Norquist, president of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, said Milei’s advisers had asked him to compile a list of conservatives in the United States to invite to the inauguration. Norquist will also travel to Buenos Aires and plans to meet with Milei’s financial advisor and other officials.

“He is a well-read man; his speeches are so clear compared to what the media always says about him,” Norquist said. “We mostly want to ask how he wants to do things and what we can do to be helpful.”

Isaac Arnsdorf in Iowa and David Feliba in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

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