Who is Argentina's new far-right, pro-Israel president Javier Milei?

Who is Argentina's new far-right, pro-Israel president Javier Milei?
4 min read
20 November, 2023
Javier Milei, a far-right populist, has won Argentina's presidential election and promised radical change.
Argentina's newly elected president Javier Milei [Getty]

Far-right populist Javier Milei has won Argentina's presidential elections with nearly 56 percent of the vote, setting him on course to be the country's next leader.

Milei, a 55-year-old economist and former tantric coach, beat his left-wing challenger Sergio Massa. The outsider vowed to cut ties with Argentina’s key trading partners China and Brazil and pledged "radical change" as inflation in Argentina exceeds 140 percent.

"Today begins the reconstruction of Argentina. Today begins the end of Argentina's decline," he said in his victory speech. 
Milei is anti-abortion, pro-guns, and says climate change is not caused by humans. Like many Latin American right-wingers, Milei is a firm backer of Israel.

What are his views on Israel?

In addition to his political support for Israel, Milei says he has a special relationship with the Jewish faith - though he is not Jewish himself, and has previously made controversial comments about Judaism. 

He reads the Torah daily and maintains personal relationships with rabbis, consulting them for personal advice and insights into 'economic analysis', he told El Pais.

In response to whether he would consider converting to Judaism, Milei told the Spanish newspaper that it would be "incompatible" with leading the Catholic-majority country.

How have countries reacted?

Former US president Donald Trump, who Milei admires, congratulated the outsider in a post on X .

"Congratulations to Javier Milei on a great race for president of Argentina," he posted.

"The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!"

Milei had previously mentioned reevaluating ties with Russia and expressed support for Ukraine.

Despite this, Dimitry Feokitistov, Russia's ambassador to Argentina, said: "We hope that the course towards commitment to multipolarity, independent foreign policy and a firm defense of national interests will be further developed. We are confident that this will be facilitated by Argentina’s accession to BRICS, which will open up new horizons and opportunities for it."

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr expressed gratitude for Meili’s stance on Ukraine, writing on X: "Congratulations to Javier Milei 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."

What stance do other Latin American states take on Gaza?

Though Latin America is generally seen as pro-Palestine, the trend of far-right leaders supporting Israel is not new. Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president until October 2022, famously advocated for pro-Israel policies and often expressed his aspiration to make Brazil a close ally to Israel.

Bolsonaro inaugurated a trade office in Jerusalem and considered breaking with international convention by relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Four Latin American nations, including Chile, Colombia, and Honduras, withdrew their diplomats from Tel Aviv in response to the war on Gaza, with Bolivia going a step further by cutting diplomatic ties altogether. 

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Bolivia's relationship with Israel has fluctuated; diplomatic ties were severed in 2009 under President Evo Morales, but reinstated in 2020 by interim leader Jeanine Áñez.

Bolivia is one of three countries in the region, alongside Venezuela (which ended recognition in 2009) and Cuba (severed ties in 1973), to not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

In contrast, Mexico and Panama stand out in the region for not recognising a Palestinian state.