Javier Milei has begun to bury disagreements on his way to the head of state in Argentina. The far-right received a call this Tuesday from Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church. Milei, who during his rise to television fame called the pontiff “the representative of evil on earth” and already during the presidential campaign accused him of “being on the side of bloody dictatorships,” invited him to visit the country next year.
As reconstructed by the newspaper The nation, The conversation was “enjoyable” and lasted about eight minutes. Milei and Francisco spoke about poverty, which in Argentina affects four out of ten people, and about the president-elect’s plans for the social area.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 86, was named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and served as cardinal of the Argentine capital between 2001 and 2013, when he was anointed Pope. Francis never visited Argentina in the 10 years of his pontificate, but his every word has had an impact on Argentine politics.
Francisco was one of the star protagonists of the round of presidential debates of this electoral campaign, when the Peronist and minister, Sergio Massa, reminded Milei of his insults towards the Pontiff. “Argentina has millions of faithful Catholics and you offended the head of the Church,” said Massa, who was defeated by Milei this Sunday in the second round. “I want you to take advantage of these 45 seconds to ask for forgiveness from the Pope, who is the most important Argentine in history.” The far-right economist replied: “My statements were made in a context when I was not yet in politics. I have no problem repeating that I am sorry for that.”
Milei lied in that debate on October 1, before the first round. Two weeks earlier, in an interview with American journalist Tucker Carlson, she had accused the Pope of “having an affinity for the murderous communists” of Cuba and Venezuela. “He is on the side of bloody dictatorships,” she accused him. It was not her last grievance against the leader of the Catholic Church.
On Wednesday, October 18, Milei, who was closing his campaign for the first round after having been the candidate with the most votes in the primaries, spoke before a packed stadium. The first speaker that night was one of his ideological references, the economist Alberto Benegas Lynch, who to applause asked “to suspend diplomatic relations with the Vatican while the totalitarian spirit prevails in the head.” The stadium responded with shouts of “freedom” and applause, but Milei later responded that the statements made by Benegas Lynch, 83, were a “personal idea.”
Milei has begun to wear the suit of president of the nation. This Tuesday morning, she visited the outgoing president, the Peronist Alberto Fernández, at the official residence in the north of Buenos Aires. Around noon, while she was recording a television interview, the Pope’s call came. Both meetings have been described as “respectful” and “institutional.”
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