by Facundo Iglesia and Valen Iricibar
CÓRDOBA CITY. Choripán, hot dogs, soda, beers, and the flags of Argentina, Gadsden, and Milei. On the streets surrounding the Patio Olmos Mall in Córdoba, everything is for sale — in pesos or dollars.
You can get Pochitas, small orange plushies of dog-like devils with chainsaws protruding from their foreheads. For supporters of far-right libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei, chainsaws symbolize the austerity measures he will implement if elected.
There are people dressed up as Milei or as lions, waving Pochitas, on the streets and surrounding balconies — all here to watch La Libertad Avanza (LLA)’s candidate speak at the closing rally of his electoral campaign.
Sofía Ferraro, a 16-year-old high school student, clung onto a wire fence for a better view.
“I want to see him. I choose to see to believe,” she told the Herald from one meter off the ground. “Before supporting a thief, I’d rather vote for someone that proposes a change — we are getting rid of the caste. Most of my classmates vote for him.”
A Milei spokesperson told the Herald that 100,000 people attended, although most Argentine media outlets calculated the number to be closer to 16,000.
As usual, an excerpt from La Renga’s song “Panic Show” — “Hello everyone, I am the lion” — was on repeat, with Milei singing before starting his speech.
“It’s important that you’re conscious of what’s being voted on this Sunday. Do we want this model of inflation that’s on its way to hyperinflation or do we want stability?” Milei said. “Do we want eternal decadence or to stand up and be a world power again?
“Ultimately we’re choosing whether we want the tyranny of the majority, Peronist populism, or if we want to embrace the ideas of liberty again.”
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People also shouted the usual pro-Milei chants, including a new version of a Peronist classic — “Massa, you garbage, you are the dictatorship.”
“Don’t let fear win. Because fear paralyzes and if things get paralyzed, the caste wins,” Milei said.
Córdoba province has traditionally been an electoral stronghold for the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC), although the capital elected a non-Kirchnerist Peronist mayor earlier this year. LLA won the province, which has the country’s second-largest electorate, with 33.5% of the vote in the general election — JxC came second with 22.6%. Milei told the crowd that he had Córdoba to thank for the greatest gift of his life: his beloved English mastiff, Conan, who he had cloned in 2017.
Francisco Pendas, a prominent LLA leader in Córdoba, said that the goal is to “exceed 70% of the vote” in the province. ln the last presidential runoff, in 2015, former president Mauricio Macri won the province with 71.52% against the Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli.
Pendas is in charge of gathering volunteers to monitor the elections. “In the province, there are 9,400 polling stations,” said Pendas, who is the son of Diana Mondino, Milei’s proposed Foreign Minister. “We believe we have all of them covered and those that are historically a little more challenging [we’ll put] more than one monitor per station.”
“Everyone works in Córdoba and working is the only way to move forward. I hope that not only Córdoba but that the entire country dyes itself purple, to vote for LLA,” Mondino told the Herald. Mondino is from Córdoba and was taking selfies with supporters, wearing a Talleres football shirt. “I think it is very clear that the entire country wants a better life.”
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JxC’s former presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich was the surprise speaker of the night, taking the microphone before Milei to moderate cheers from the crowd.
“I want to talk to the 6.4 million citizens who, alongside you, voted for change in Argentina for Javier to become the next president on the 19th,” Bullrich said in a direct appeal to her voters.
Following a campaign trail of strong accusations and heated exchanges, Bullrich personally endorsed Milei days after her electoral defeat in the October 22 election. The move fractured the opposition coalition, with many criticizing former president Mauricio Macri for actively endorsing the far-right libertarian.
“I have decided, together with many, many political leaders and above all citizens who accompanied us, to say to Javier ‘It’s your turn,’” Bullrich said. “You were the one who won the [candidacy to represent] change and we will accompany you with patriotism so that you are the next president.”
Contrary to convention, Unión por la Patria (UxP)’s Sergio Massa did not hold a large closing rally on Thursday. Instead, the Economy Minister attended a series of smaller events — speaking in front of businesspeople and meeting with high school students — the last of which will be a factory in Buenos Aires province. The location had not been disclosed at the time of writing and Massa’s press team did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment.
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