Latin American ex-presidents, military officers, and Evangelicals weigh in on Milei

Conservatives like Duque and Piñeira say Milei promises “hope of change” but major Evangelical foundation criticized his views on guns and creating an organ market

With everyone from political groupings to Taylor Swift fans coming out for or against far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei, Latin American former presidents, ex-military officials, and the Evangelical church have entered the fray.

A group of nine right-wing former presidents from the region, led by Argentine Mauricio Macri, published a letter on Saturday endorsing Milei and criticizing his opponent Sergio Massa’s policies as economy minister.

“A new Kirchnerist government would bury the fragile antibodies that Argentina still has against economic populism, authoritarianism, political corruption and the corporate pact.”

The letter was signed by Mariano Rajoy (Spain), Sebastián Piñeira (Chile), Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón (Mexico), Iván Duque and Andrés Pastrana (Colombia), Luis Fortuño (Puerto Rico) and Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia). Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa is also a signatory.

Milei, they said, “represents the hope of change against the continuity of the Kirchnerist model” and has “a very accurate diagnosis of the country’s economic problems.”

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Military calls for neutrality

Last week, Army Chief Iván Volante — who is soon to retire — and some former military officers made public statements against Unión por la Patria’s vice presidential candidate Agustín Rossi. Volante posted a TikTok video on Thursday criticizing Rossi’s tenure as defense minister, a position he held from 2013-2015 and 2019-2021. 

Milei’s running-mate Victoria Villarruel shared the video on X (formerly Twitter) in what she described as “support for the chief” and other armed and security forces members who “suffer the demonization and mistreatment of Kirchnerism.”

Volante also posted a video of a green Ford Falcon car commonly used by the military during the last dictatorship to kidnap people and take them to clandestine detention centers. “Although a bit crowded, seven [people] fit in that trunk,” said the video. Former Navy Lieutenant Carlos Quintela Dansey also posted a video on social media speaking against Rossi.

In response, on Saturday the head of the Army and Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces Juan Martín Paleo condemned their statements for going against military neutrality, describing them as “irresponsible, untruthful and ill-intentioned.”

Paleo wrote an X thread saying “the Armed Forces are republican and politically neutral institutions,” and therefore, officers should not take a political stance during an electoral campaign. “These occurrences violate the rules on force and affect the discipline [of the forces], especially because they were made a few days before the elections.” Volante will be sanctioned by the Armed Forces.

Evangelicals against Milei

The Argentine Federation of Evangelical Churches, one of the biggest Evangelical organizations in the country, published a letter on Thursday explicitly rejecting Milei’s electoral platform, and called the members of this religion to thoroughly inform themselves before voting on Sunday.

The letter, signed by pastor and president of the federation Leonardo Schindler, rejected “any project that promotes the right to freely bear firearms” and the creation of an Argentine market for human organs, both of which have been proposed by Milei and members of his La Libertad Avanza coalition.

“As churches, we are called by our Lord […] to make an unavoidable commitment in favor of a society that guarantees social justice, defense of human rights, and the preservation of [God’s] creation,” the letter said.

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