The libertarian economist and leader of La Libertad Avanza Javier Milei confirmed on Monday that national deputy Victoria Villaruel would be his running mate in the open, simultaneous and obligatory primaries (PASO) that will define the candidates for the presidential election on October 22.
Villarruel is notorious for her defense of human rights abuse perpetrators during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.
“I chose her because she is a brilliant and honest person. We are also friends who complement each other very well, in order to solve the issues afflicting the country,” Milei said in an interview at La Nación+ television station.
Milei praised Villarruel’s expertise in security, domestic defense and human rights, and said the pair would be competing in a “David against Goliath” type battle against “two electoral powerhouses,” in reference to the Frente de Todos (FdT) and Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalitions.
Villarruel, in turn, praised the economist’s work in the Lower House and said they would have a collaborative working relationship, pointing out that that is lacking between current President Alberto Fernández and his Vice, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Speaking of Milei, she described him as someone “out of this world” who has impacted the economic discourse of not only the opposition, but of the ruling Frente de Todos coalition as well.
The PASO will take place on August 13.
A denialist lawyer in the Lower House
Victoria Villarruel is a lawyer who won a seat as a national deputy for La Libertad Avanza along with Milei in 2021.
La Libertad Avanza is a libertarian and conservative coalition. Since she entered Congress, Villarruel has pushed projects along these lines. She has filed a bill to create a National Day to remember the Victims of Terrorism in Argentina, as well as a statement condemning a call from the Gender Office of the Lower House to celebrate the anniversary of the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law.
Villaruel has also become well known as someone who rejects the results of the trials against military leaders and the research done post-dictatorship.
In 2014, she wrote a book called “The silenced dead,” arguing that the guerrillas who fought Argentina’s dictatorships were as bad as the state terrorism during the dictatorship in the 1970s.
She is also the founder and president of the civil association Center of Legal Studies on Terrorism and its Victims (CELTYV, its acronym in Spanish), where she has defended military leaders accused of crimes against humanity.
Villarruel, who says that the dictatorship did not disappear 30,000 people, a staple of the denialism discourse, has been accused by numerous human rights organizations of promoting the “two demons theory” (teoría de los dos demonios in Spanish), an accusation she denies.
The “two demons theory” claims that the military government and the guerrilla movements of the 1970s share equal responsibility for the crimes against humanity that took place during the dictatorship of 1976 to 1983.