Milei meets Trump at conservative conference in Washington

‘I will not give up on making Argentina great again,’ the Argentine president said during a speech focusing on economic theory at CPAC

Argentine President Javier Milei briefly met former U.S. President Donald Trump backstage at a conservative conference in Washington on Saturday. The pair hugged and praised each other. 

The encounter comes days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Argentina to meet the president for investment talks. The U.S. is in the midst of the 2024 election campaign, with Trump and President Joe Biden as the main candidates.

Milei was one of the speakers at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where, like at the Davos World Economic Forum, he gave a speech focused on economic theory and technical concepts, heating up only towards the end when he lashed out against socialism and social justice. The technical tone of his speech was in marked contrast to the more politically-charged addresses of other speakers. 

CPAC is an annual political conference that convenes right-wing activists and politicians. Trump made a speech there in 2011 that catapulted him into the political limelight. This year, the Republican leader was announced as the main speaker.

Milei traveled to Washington on Friday night, hours after holding a bilateral meeting with Blinken in Buenos Aires. Milei’s trip to a blatantly pro-Trump event in Washington was a delicate matter for the Argentine government, which is keen to maintain Biden’s economic and political support.

Milei and Trump did not have a formal meeting, but met briefly for around a minute and a half, with YMCA by Village People loudly playing in the background.

Milei waited for Trump backstage while he gave his speech, greeting him as “president” and saying he was happy to meet him. He also thanked him for mentioning him in his speech, telling Trump he is “very generous.”

During his speech, Trump called Milei “a great gentleman,” adding: “he’s MAGA, Make Argentina Great Again.”

They embraced and took pictures together, while Trump told Milei to “make Argentina great again.”

“You are doing a great job,” Trump told Milei. This was the first time the two had met in person. Milei said Trump was a great president and that he hoped he would be president again — a remark which could heighten tensions with the Biden administration.

A theory-focused speech

“Nice day to make the left tremble,” Milei said at the beginning of his speech, in which he positioned himself against “the abomination of social justice,” the “killer abortion agenda,” post-Marxism and the environmental movement, which he said “proposes a fight of men against nature.”

Milei spoke an hour after Trump. Videos show the conference room half full during his speech. The audience was mostly silent, except for scattered applause while Milei spoke about economic theories against regulations and in favor of “promoting a free market to promote peace.”

Milei read most of his speech from his notes, but finished with increasingly heated words about socialism and market freedom, spoken while looking directly at the audience. These were met with fervor by the attendees. He also promised to “not give up on making Argentina great again.”

“The message here is don’t let socialism advance,” he told the audience. “Don’t endorse regulation. Don’t endorse the idea of market failure. Don’t allow the murderous [abortion] agenda, and don’t let the siren calls of social justice fool you.

“I come from a country that bought all of those stupid ideas and from being one of the most affluent countries in the world is now in 140th place,” he said.

Milei asked the attendees not to “surrender” their freedom. “If you don’t fight for your freedom, they will drag you into misery,” he added, which was met with hollering and chants of his name.

“Argentina seemed to be a country condemned to be like sheep driven by socialists,” Milei said. “When I started my career in Congress, I said I wasn’t there to herd sheep, but to awaken lions. Every day we wake more lions […] and now we are waking the entire world.”

He closed his speech by repeating his slogan “Long live freedom, dammit” three times.

You may also be interested in: What’s CPAC, the right-wing conference Milei is attending in the US?


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald