Argentina: Javier Milei Condemns ‘Corrupt, Parasitic, Useless’ Politicians in Last Debate Before Election

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 12: Presidential candidate for La Libertad Avanza Javie
Luis Robayo - Pool/Getty Images

Argentina’s presidential candidates — libertarian economist Javier Milei and socialist current Economy Minister Sergio Massa — faced off on Sunday night in the third and final debate ahead of November 19’s runoff election.

Sunday’s debate saw Milei and Massa argue their proposals one last time before the Argentine electorate heads to the polls next Sunday to choose who will be the nation’s president for the next four years. Socialist current President Alberto Fernández chose not to run for reelection and will end his term on December 10.

While their respective campaigns both claimed to have come up ahead in the debate, international mainstream media have proclaimed Massa as the “winner” of the debate. At press time, Argentina’s presidential race remains too close to call. Different local pollsters have attributed narrow leads to either Milei or Massa but with percentage differences too narrow to result in any clear predictions.

The debate started with the subject of Argentina’s economy, which, under Massa’s tenure as economy minister, has been brought to the brink of a total collapse marked by over 130 percent inflation and the continued crumbling of the nation’s frail currency, the Argentine peso. Milei used his time to directly blame Massa for the poor state of the economy, low salaries, and inflation.

“You have ruined our income, it fell 33 percent, which had already been falling with [former center-right President Mauricio] Macri,” Milei continued. “Look at the misery you generated. I am going to put an end to the [Central Bank of Argentina], I am going to put an end to inflation, which is the way they steal from us.”

Milei, during his turn to talk on the subject of economy, reiterated two of his major campaign promises: The elimination of the Central Bank of Argentina and the adoption of the U.S. dollar as the nation’s legal tender, a process commonly referred to as “dollarization.”

“To think that if we had [currency] convertibility we would have an average income of 1,800 dollars and not this misery we have today,” Milei asserted. “Yes, I am going to eliminate the central bank because it is the one that generates inflation.”

Massa, in response, repeatedly called Milei a “liar” during the debate and accused him of planning to agree to British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), a sparsely populated British territory Argentina lost a costly war in 1982 to attempt to colonize.

“Unfortunately, we are in front of someone who lied throughout the campaign or is lying tonight,” Massa claimed, questioning Milei’s economic promises.

“Yes, we are going to dollarize the economy, we are going to close the central bank and put an end to the cancer of inflation,” Milei answered.

“It’s very easy, if a liar says someone is a liar, the one who is accused tells the truth. Because if you were Pinocchio, you would have already hurt my eye,” Milei said to Massa.

Massa then claimed that Milei’s admiration of conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was an indication that he would agree to stop fighting for the Falklands, which have no significant economic value and whose population is English-speaking and not ethnically related to the Argentines.

“You said that Margaret Thatcher was your idol and that the Malvinas have the right of self-determination of the Kelpers [common term for Falkland Islanders]. I invite people to Google you because it seems to me that you came to deny what you said during the whole campaign, that is why people are afraid of you,” Massa said. “You have to say clearly: Is Thatcher your idol, do the Kelpers have the right to self-determination? Yes or no?”

Milei responded that he considers the Falkland Islands to be Argentine territory and that his government is going to exhaust “all diplomatic instances” so that they become Argentine territory, describing Massa’s words as “cheap nationalism.”

“Thatcher has had a significant role in the fall of the Berlin Wall. It seems to bother you that it fell and crushed the left,” Milei said. “We had a war and we lost it, we have to make efforts to recover the islands by democratic means. I am going to defend Malvinas.”

On the subject of Argentina’s relations with the world, Milei asserted that he believes in international trade with openness, adding that countries that are open to the world “have per capita income nine times higher than those that are closed.”

“However, I also believe that the state should not interfere or say with whom I have to trade, the state ends up being a hindrance and the best example is [the regional trade bloc] Mercosur,” Milei said. “In the face of those lies that I point out that we should not trade with China or Brazil, I say that it is false, there is no reason for the state to interfere.”

Massa accused Milei of wanting to turn Argentina into a “tax haven” for his intention to not have the Argentine state engage in trade with any communist or socialist state, including China and Brazil. Milei has repeatedly stated that, if elected president, he would limit ties with China as he does not do business with communists — clarifying that it is “not his problem” as president if private entrepreneurship decides to engage in trade with socialist — and/or communist-led nations.

On education, Milei stated that access to both health and education will remain public, highlighting the importance that his political campaign gives to both. Massa, on the other hand, opted to praise Argentina’s “public, free, quality, inclusive” education system, making calls to defend and improve it.

“I find the proposals that Minister Massa has interesting. His political movement has been in power for 16 years, I do not know why they did not do it. We have a commitment to literacy,” Milei said. “Do you know that only 16 percent of children finish high school in due time and form? 30 percent do not even finish it. They are allocating a lot of resources when they do not even finish high school, we have to get the children out of poverty first. Your government left 2/3 of the children in poverty, if they are not fed they cannot study, let alone work.”

“You think it [education] is free and nothing is free,” Milei continued. “In the short term I am not going to charge fees for universities. I will give people the resources to choose the institution they want to attend.”

On production and work, Massa promised to become the “president of labor” through the creation of two million new jobs in Argentina.

“I find it amusing that Minister Massa talks about creating 2 million jobs. The number of employees in the private sector has stagnated since 2011, as has the level of production,” Milei rebutted. “The product per capita is 15 percent below. This happens because there is no investment, in Argentina it is impossible to earn money with the outrageous tax burden.”

“And if you earn money,” he continued, “the expropriators’ gang appears with the idea of social justice, the redistribution of income, they go and steal the result of the fruit of their work.”

Upon concluding the debate, both candidates presented their closing arguments.

“I want to be President because my grandparents and my parents came here escaping from a war and this country gave them everything,” Massa stated. “They taught me to love and value it. I want to be President so that those women and grandparents who often feel that the State abandons them or that they are not part of society, feel that they are an integral part of it.”

Massa argued that Argentina has to “definitively bury the rift to reach an agreement on ten state policies, which must be based on dialogue and consensus to provide long-term predictability.”

Milei began his closing arguments by describing the upcoming election as the “most important” one in the last 100 years.

“It is time to ask ourselves if we want to continue on this decadent path that makes us more miserable every day, with more and more poor and indigent people, where children have to leave the country to look for a future. It is a country condemned to misery,” Milei said.

The libertarian economist asked the electorate to ask themselves if they prefer “inflation over stability, this decline in production and employment or economic growth, if you want to continue supporting this corrupt, corrupt, parasitic and useless political caste that the only thing it does is to destroy our generation of wealth and to sink us more and more.”

Milei spoke to Radio Mitre early Monday morning, explaining that Massa sought to provoke him during last night’s debate.

“The truth is that I felt very comfortable and we had a very clear objective. Here, what we have to understand is what each one of us is looking for in the debate. There was a clear intention on the part of Sergio Massa to provoke me,” Milei said.

“He had a group of psychologists working in his team of Brazilians looking for elements to provoke me and make me out of sorts,” Milei continued, referencing a group of Brazilian campaign strategists that worked for radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s 2022 presidential campaign and who are now presently enlisted by Massa’s campaign. 

“He had prepared for this week, now he will have to change it, a whole series of works to show me as someone irascible, that I cannot maintain emotional stability and all that kind of fear campaign,” Milei said during his interview. “He provoked me throughout the debate several times, he was very aggressive in many of them and nevertheless he did not manage to get me out of the axis at any time.”

“We had the objective of demonstrating that all the things they are accusing us of are lies. And we did that impeccably,” he continued. “Each of the things they were accusing us of, we basically managed to dismiss them.”

Last month, Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad said that Lula’s government, a close ally of outgoing leftist President Alberto Fernández, is “worried” about a potential Milei presidency. Milei reiterated last week that he would not meet with Lula, once again describing the Brazilian socialist president as a “corrupt” and a “communist.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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