Tension skyrockets as government calls Chubut’s warning ‘Chavista threat’

President Milei went on a rampage on social media, bashing Governor Torres and even making a veiled threat of sending him to prison

Javier Milei, Argentina 2023 election results. Photo: Reuters

The Argentine government called Chubut Governor Ignacio Torres’ announcement that he would stop sending oil and gas to the rest of the country until his province receives its share of federal taxes a ‘Chavista threat,” escalating a conflict that does not seem to have an end in sight.  

President Javier Milei also went on a rampage on social media, bashing Torres on X and even making a thinly veiled prison threat. 

“Hello, Nachito and accomplices,” he wrote in all caps. “I’m sending you part of the Penal Code,” he posted alongside a copy of Article 194. This provision states that those who “impede, hinder, or obstruct” the normal operation of electricity or energy services can receive up to two years of jail time.

Milei added that Torres’ stance implies an “advance against private property” and also bashed the other governors that backed him.

Twenty-three of the country’s 24 governors have supported Torres’ stance (Tucumán governor Osvaldo Jaldo is the only holdout). The national government’s decision to slash transport subsidies and other fund transfers has affected all of them. 

“See how the caste that has ruined the lives of good Argentines get together to defend their obscene privileges with poverty going through the roof makes me sick,” Milei said in another post on X.

Milei’s already heavy X activity seemed to grow even more throughout Friday and Saturday. Over that period, he liked 866 posts on X and reposted 436. According to the Nulo website, the president spent at least five hours and 29 minutes on the Elon Musk-owned platform over those two days, only accounting for reposts and likes.

In an interview on Saturday with Radio Con Vos, Torres took aim at the government’s social media attacks, saying that Milei advisor Santiago Caputo threatened him with sending trolls at him. “He told me, ‘Nacho, I recommend you shut up because we are going to aim our social media tanks at you’,” Torres said. 

“What is that? I don’t care if there is an army of trolls merging my face with Chávez’s face. I am very clear about who I am,” he said.

Torres also said that PRO party founder and former President Mauricio Macri, was aware of the governor ‘s decision to confront Milei. Conversely, Milei’s security minister, Patricia Bullrich, who remains the current head of the PRO, opposed Torres. “Not only is it obscene to make such a threat, but these are statements that scare away investments, job creation, and progress in our country,” she said. The PRO is scheduled to renew its authorities soon and Bullrich aims to keep her seat while Macri seeks to replace her.

Interior Minister Guillermo Francos was another government official who chimed in, saying that “nothing was illegally withheld.” According to Francos, Chubut has a debt with the national government that is being deducted by keeping a share of the province’s federal taxes.  

“An AR$13 billion installment that was due this month was withheld,” he said in a post on X.

Chubut’s vice-governor, Gustavo Menna, said that he formally asked the government to refinance the December and January installments of Chubut’s debt, but received no answer.

Milei and his supporters have accused Torres of not taking austerity measures. The governor, however,  said that they had already fired 3,500 state employees in what he called “the largest fiscal austerity plan in the history of the province.”

“President, I want to tell you that, unlike others, I am not afraid of you,” Torres said. “We will not give in to your insults, threats, or pressure. I do not believe in violence and I will defend the people of Chubut to the last consequences.”


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