A man and his dog: the mysticism behind Javier Milei’s campaign

The presidential frontrunner believes he can communicate with his deceased pet and that he is on a mission from God, a new book reveals

Editor’s Note: The following is a translated excerpt from Juan Luis González’s book, “El Loco.” It has been lightly edited for clarity.

Javier Milei wasn’t listening. He had spoken non-stop for 50 minutes about his project to dollarize the Argentine economy and how “nefarious” the “political caste” was, but he grew quiet as he stared at a TV screen. Esteban Trebucq, the journalist who became famous for his bald head and hardline persona, attempted to bring him back into the interview. He did not succeed.

“That’s Conan there. It’s Conan, that’s Conan,” the congressman repeated when he opened his mouth again. Without prior notice, the show’s production team had aired an old picture of his English Mastiff, and Milei was unable to take his eyes off the monitor. Trebucq, known as Pelado (“Baldy”), tried to pose another question, but it was pointless. Milei was fixated not on a pet but on his “truest, greatest love,” a creature that he considered a son.

The dog had come back with him following a work-related trip to Córdoba province, where he had gone to submit a paper back in late 2004. Conan was only a puppy back then, but the picture they were airing on the A24 network must have been taken ten years after that. Conan looked big, with gray hair all over, callous elbows, and a wide-open jaw that suggested he might have struggled to breathe.

“How old is he?” asked the reporter, who had given up by then and was simply following his guest’s lead.

The congressman thought for a few seconds and answered, somewhat confused.

“Uff, I can’t do the math; he’s quite old,” he said, before repeating the same story he told everybody who asked him about the animal. That it was the most important thing in his life. That when he was going through “his worst period,” the dog was the only one who supported him. That he even gave up eating in order to feed Conan, and that this was why he ended up with a poor diet, weighing 120 kilograms (265 pounds). That he spent a dozen Christmases and New Year’s Eves alone with him. That once there was a fire in his apartment, and that he nearly died because he wouldn’t leave without his “four-legged child.” That he was willing to die for Conan.

But there was a lot about that dog — and about himself —  that Milei did not reveal in that interview earlier this year. 

Milei did not say, for example, that Conan was dead or that he died in his arms on a Sunday in October 2017, in his former Abasto apartment, after the animal’s long fight with spinal cancer. Neither did he reveal that he worked with a parapsychologist and a telepath who could read the dog’s mind and “communicate” his thoughts to his owner. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

After the death of his dog-child and most loyal friend, Milei changed completely. It was a blow that several clones of the animal — which he ordered in the United States for US$50,000 plus tax, and which he now refers to as his “grandchildren” — could not soften.

His sister, Karina, who is as essential to him as Conan was, tried to help him. She studied to become a medium, and it was she who helped the deceased dog communicate with his owner. Today, the youngest member of the Milei family claims he can talk to both living and dead animals and makes important decisions based on those conversations.

But that’s not all. The congressman has started to tell more unsettling stories to those willing to listen: that Conan didn’t actually die — “It was a physical disappearance” — but has gone to sit next to “Number One” to protect him; and that he, Milei, has started having conversations with God himself.

“I saw the resurrection of Christ three times, but I can’t talk about that because people will say I am crazy,” he told a friend recently, in a chat that person has saved.

And then one day the unexpected happened — something that would forever change the life of Milei and Argentina. In one of his conversations with “Number One,” God revealed the reason why he was keeping such close contact. Just as he had done with Moses, He told Milei that He had a “mission” for him: to enter politics and not stop until he became president of the country.

This book was born out of a crisis. Originally, it was conceived as an X-ray of the new right wing led by Javier Milei. I wanted to explore who these people are, how they organize, and what kinds of international connections they have. The plan was to write something similar to Mundo PRO by Alejandro Belloti, Sergio Morresi, and Gabriel Vommaro, which analyzes the party’s architecture and composition, or Los Herederos de Alfonsín by José Antonio Díaz and Alfredo Leuco, which does the same for members of the Radical Youth in 1987.

My book would focus on a new phenomenon that burst onto the political scene in 2021 and ended up winning a stunning 17% of the vote in the city of Buenos Aires.

But that book got lost along the way. After months of conducting interviews and off-the-record meetings while chasing invoices, stamps, and paper trails, it became something closer to a tragicomic thriller, halfway between Raymond Chandler’s crime novels and John Kennedy Toole’s The Confederacy of Dunces.

The thing is, Milei’s mysticism was not the first revelation to force a change of plans. 

While researching the book, I encountered a shadowy political movement that put its positions up for sale, established relations with barrabravas (organized football firms) connected to murder cases, and counted among its ranks former long-time government employees convicted of corruption.

It also opened its doors to neo-Nazis and dictatorship defenders; propagated conspiracy theories about a war between the Freemasons and the Opus Dei; accepted funding from provincial governments; received technical, logistical, and monetary aid from the same Peronism it claimed to be fighting; threatened anybody willing to speak out against it, including one of its own legislators; and gave hope to a youth that had lost it, even as it obscured its age-old methods of making money and doing business in Argentina. And this is not even mentioning one of the richest men in the country, Eduardo Eurnekian, who believed he could protect his interests by creating and funding the media phenomenon that would become known as Javier Milei. 

Almost by accident, the book transformed into a series of questions: What kind of toll can a decade-long economic and political crisis, a pandemic that caused 130,000 deaths, and years of inflation, crime, and living on the edge take on a country? What happens when someone starts pointing the finger at the people in power, and the incendiary discourse that has burned down other nations ignites in our own? And what happens if an unstable leader emerges in an unstable Argentina?

The answers will surprise you.

“El Loco” is published by Planeta de Libros and can be purchased here.


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