ARGENTINA’S new president has three nicknames – The Lion, The Wig and The Madman.
The first one is what Javier Milei likes to call himself, and the second reflects the rock-star-turned-celebrity-economist’s shaggy hairstyle, even though the locks are real.
But it’s the third, El Loco — the crazy one — which seems far more appropriate, given his wild policy promises and even more unconventional personal life.
Milei, 53, reportedly takes advice from his dead dog, used to teach tantric sex, once dressed up as a masked superhero and wielded a chainsaw during his political rallies.
Though he has been described as Argentina’s Donald Trump, he makes the former American President appear moderate by comparison.
Mutton-chopped Milei advocates selling body organs, scrapping most government departments, selling off the impoverished country’s rivers and seas and making the US dollar its official currency.
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When the far-right leader was asked if he favoured selling children, he replied “it depends”.
Even so, from a British perspective, Milei may not sound all bad.
Although he vowed to “get the Falkland Islands back” from British control during his election campaign, he doesn’t want to force Argentinian rule on the South Atlantic islanders.
He is also a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher — who led the British military response in defeating Argentina’s 1982 Falklands invasion — calling her “one of the great leaders in the history of humanity”.
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However, those aren’t the kind of ideas that tend to appeal to the electorate in South America’s second biggest country, where 80 per cent of voters want Argentina to take control of the Falklands again.
But Milei was up against finance minister Sergio Massa, a candidate who had been in charge of an economy with 140 per cent inflation and 40 per cent poverty rates.
Even El Loco, who won nearly 56 per cent of the vote in this weekend’s election, admitted he was a gamble.
During the final week of campaigning, he said: “Like all change, it always entails a risk. That’s why we have courage — we take the risk, and we go for glory.”
No one could accuse Milei of being a political insider.
His father Norberto was a bus driver who set up his own transport business and his mum Alicia was a housewife.
Milei claims he suffered a harsh childhood without parental love in the capital Buenos Aires.
He said: “My father always told me that I was trash, that I was going to die of hunger and that I was going to be useless all my life.”
At school he gained the Madman nickname partly due to his exploits as a goalkeeper.
He was good enough to be a reserve player for the youth team of second division side Chacarita Juniors.
But he quit football at 18 to study economics, going on to lecture at university, then working as an economist at various financial institutions.
In his free time he sang in a band, Everest, which played Rolling Stones songs — and he looked the part.
Milei claims he hasn’t combed his hair since he was 13, adding: “From that moment on, the invisible hand combs my hair.”
It wasn’t until a decade ago that he became a public figure for his political views.
His combative style and controversial stance soon grabbed the public’s attention when he appeared on TV to discuss politics.
Milei would shout and swear on live shows and didn’t care who he insulted.
He called Pope Francis, an Argentinian largely revered in his homeland, “the representative of evil on Earth”.
Milei even dared to disrespect the country’s most famous footballer, the late Diego Maradona — whose controversial Hand of God goal put England out of the 1986 World Cup.
But rather than addressing the infamous hand-ball incident, Milei simply said Maradona had not been as good as Brazil’s recently deceased football legend Pele.
Already a hero to many on the far right, at a comic book convention in 2019 Milei dressed up for the part in a black suit, yellow cape, golden shield and mask to appear as his own creation, General AnCap.
That, he explained, was because he is an “anarcho-capitalist” whose “mission is to kick the ass of Keynesians” — those who share the ideas of 20th century British economist John Maynard Keynes on the benefits of public investment.
A year later he joined newly- formed right-wing party Avanza Libertad, or Freedom Advances, and was quickly elected as a congress-man.
This year he became the party’s presidential candidate, gaining notoriety for his extreme ideas.
Milei said he wanted to burn down the central bank and won’t trade with communist nations such as China.
He also talked about privatising education by issuing vouchers and making people pay for healthcare.
Abortion, which was only legalised in 2020, was to be banned again, but owning a gun was to be made easier.
Milei doesn’t think humans are to blame for climate change and reckons sex education is a form of left-wing brainwashing.
His most radical plan is for the country’s peso currency.
Milei has called it “worth less than excrement” and vowed to tie the country to the US dollar instead.
Even his backers doubt this is possible.
Billionaire supporter Eduardo Eurnekian told the Financial Times: “I think Milei would be a very good president. But I don’t want the dollar.”
Even so, as the nation’s inflation rate has risen, so has his popularity.
In August, unmarried Milei began dating glamorous comedian Fatima Florez, whose routine includes impersonating the disgraced left-wing ex-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Milei says he has taught tantric sex, a mix of sex and yoga which can go on for hours and has famously been practised by singer Sting.
He told an interviewer: “Each man has his own dynamic. In my case, I ejaculate every three months.”
A biography, El Loco, by journalist Juan Luis Gonzalez, told of Milei’s affection for his dogs, claiming he uses a spiritualist to seek guidance from his beloved English mastiff Conan, who died in 2017 and has been cloned four times.
When this was put to Milei he replied: “What I do in my house is my business.
“And if, as they say, he is my political adviser, the truth is, he wiped the floor with them.”
For many Argentinians, Milei’s views on the Falkland Islands are not likely to play well.
He has said another war is not an option and instead hopes to persuade the British to agree to a diplomatic solution whereby the Falklands are tied to Argentina, like Hong Kong is to China.
But he says: “We must include the interests of people living in the islands” — and currently they don’t want to be ruled from Buenos Aires.
As victory came within his grasp this month, Milei did start to tone down some of his rhetoric.
In a recent advert he told voters: “We’re not going to privatise healthcare. We’re not going to privatise education. We’re not going to privatise soccer.
“We’re not going to allow the unrestricted carrying of weapons.”
That, though, does not explain why the Argentinian people voted for him.
As economy minister in the outgoing government, Milei’s presidential rival Sergio Massa stoked inflation by printing currency to try to ease the country’s huge debts.
That is despite Argentina having a wealth of natural resources, including shale gas and lithium.
Professor Fiona Macaulay, a specialist in Latin American politics at Bradford University, told The Sun: “He (Milei) is very similar to Bolsonaro and Trump.
“Like Bolsonaro he has come seemingly from nowhere with a new party.
“It is not that unusual in South America to have an outsider come in and promise to sweep away the old elite, and often they are pretty eccentric.
“This is not the first time the Argentinian economy has tanked, and when you have had the two main parties swapping power, people inevitably pivot to the third outsider.”
With the country £35billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund, and inflation predicted to reach nearly 190 per cent by the time he takes over on December 10, Milei has a tough job on his hands.
His party has only eight seats out of 72 in the senate, so he will struggle to get his radical reforms through.
And that could lead to more trouble for Argentina.
Dr Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at London think tank Chatham House, said: “I don’t see him sitting down and compromising.”