Argentina election winner Milei greeted around the world with a mix of hostility and support

Argentina’s President-elect Javier Milei speaks to his supporters after winning the second round of Argentina’s presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 19, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo acquire license rights

Nov 21 (Reuters) – Argentina’s libertarian President-elect Javier Milei’s victory over the weekend sparked mixed reactions around the world – including hostility from some Latin American leftists, hesitant support from others and China’s commitment to working with him despite his criticism. comments.

Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, channeled voters’ anger over a deep economic crisis and years of economic dysfunction to win Sunday’s runoff election by a double-digit margin.

The former television pundit is expected to take the reins of power next month, steering Argentina away from the center-left Peronist government of outgoing President Alberto Fernández.

Asked for his reaction on Tuesday, left-wing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he respected the voters’ verdict, but added that he thought Milei’s victory was unlikely to solve Argentina’s problems.

“We don’t think it’s helpful,” Lopez Obrador told reporters. He then applied a football term to describe the underdog’s victory: “It was an own goal.”

Former left-wing Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close ally of previous Peronist governments in Buenos Aires, said on social media on Tuesday that he would “never wish success on fascism, ultra-conservatism and neoliberalism”.

Left-wing leaders in Venezuela and Colombia also deplored the results of Sunday’s elections. Colombian President Gustavo Petro called the result in an article on X “sad for Latin America.”

But other left-wing Latin American leaders have been more supportive. Chilean President Gabriel Boric and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva both sent their best wishes to Milei.

Lula’s congratulations came despite Milei’s harsh criticism of the Brazilian leader during the election campaign, where at one point Milei called Lula an “angry communist” and corrupt.

“Democracy is the voice of the people and it must always be respected,” Lula said on social media on Sunday. However, a close aide to Lula said Milei had offended the Brazilian leader and owed him an apology before negotiations could begin.

Others outside the region for whom Milei showed little friendship were also diplomats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Milei, essentially ignoring his past support for Ukraine in its war with Moscow, as well as indications that Argentina would not join the Russia-backed BRICS group under the leadership of Milei.

“We will focus and judge (Milei) primarily on the statements he makes after the inauguration,” the Kremlin spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing was willing to work with Argentina to “keep relations on a stable course” despite some critical comments from Milei’s team during the campaign.

Milei has found enthusiastic support among right-wing populists, including former US President Donald Trump, who told Milei in a video to “make Argentina great again”, and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who Lula narrowly defeated him last year.

“I’m really happy,” Bolsonaro said in video footage of a call with Argentina’s next president. “You have a big job ahead of you… and it’s a job that goes beyond Argentina,” Bolsonaro said, raising his fist in the air.

The leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party congratulated Milei, while the leader of Chile’s right-wing opposition José Antonio Kast hailed her “resounding victory.”

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who also rode a wave of popular discontent into office, responded with a riff on the song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the musical “Evita.” But he put a positive spin on it.

“Now say it without crying,” Bukele wrote in an article on X.

Reporting by Steven Grattan in Sao Paulo; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Rosalba O’Brien

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