Milei, a far-right figure in Argentina, has sparked anger among Falklands veterans by praising former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

During the last debate before the upcoming election, Argentina’s libertarian candidate for president, Javier Milei, received backlash from Falklands war veterans for his admiration of Margaret Thatcher as one of the “great leaders in human history.”

Milei, who identifies as an anarcho-capitalist, has often voiced admiration for Thatcher’s policies promoting a free market. However, she remains despised in Argentina for her decision to sink the General Belgrano cruiser during the 1982 conflict between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland Islands, known as Islas Malvinas in Argentina, resulting in the death of 323 individuals on board.

During Sunday night’s debate, Milei responded to criticism from his opponent, Peronist candidate Sergio Massa, regarding his admiration for the Iron Lady.

“Previously, you stated that Thatcher is your role model, and I encourage people to research this on Google. However, you now seem to be retracting statements made during your campaign, which is causing concern among people.” Massa challenged Milei. “Can you definitively state whether or not Thatcher is your idol?”

Milei was lured in by the statement. He stated, “Throughout history, there have been exceptional leaders and Mrs. Thatcher was one of them.” Milei also noted that Massa’s dislike for Thatcher stemmed from his leftist views. Furthermore, Milei argued that Thatcher played a crucial role in the collapse of the Berlin Wall and it appeared that Massa was bothered by this event and the defeat of the left. However, Milei believed that this was Massa’s own issue to deal with.

Milei stated that rejecting Thatcher’s “greatness” was a mistake comparable to disregarding the talent of French footballer Kylian Mbappé, who scored three goals against Argentina’s victorious team in the 2022 World Cup championship.

Massa responded, stating that Thatcher will always be considered an enemy of Argentina and that their war heroes are not up for negotiation. Despite Thatcher’s perceived significance, Massa does not hold her in high regard.

Milei’s analogy of a football game to a war where 649 Argentinians lost their lives sparked anger from veterans of the 1982 conflict.

Ernesto Alonso, a veteran, expressed his frustration on C5N news channel on Monday, stating that the issue has been trivialized. According to him, Margaret Thatcher will always be seen as Argentina’s enemy for her decision to sink the cruiser Belgrano outside of the exclusion zone. He also pointed out that almost half of the casualties in the Malvinas conflict were from that ship.

Before the first round last month, Milei was seen as the leading candidate. However, he ended up in second place with 29.9% of the votes, behind Massa’s 36.6%. This past weekend, he received an endorsement in the form of an open letter signed by nine former Spanish and Latin American presidents, including Mauricio Macri from Argentina, Andrés Pastrana and Iván Duque from Colombia, and Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón from Mexico, as well as the Peruvian Nobel Prize-winning author, Mario Vargas Llosa.

However, Milei is facing some challenges as he desperately needed to win the debate. Several polls indicate that the two candidates are tied as they approach the final stretch before Sunday’s election.

Macri and former first-round electoral foe Patricia Bullrich were conspicuous in their absence from Sunday’s debate, after they were apparently disinvited by Milei amid reported friction between the nominal allies.

During a radio interview on Monday, Milei asserted that Massa supporters had collaborated to purposely cough whenever he spoke. He has also made similar accusations during TV interviews and live lectures.

Every time I tried to speak, there was a cough. Massa attempted to disrupt me emotionally, but he was unsuccessful, despite the coughing. Milei stated this.

Regardless of whether they have a cough or not, veterans of the 1982 war in Argentina are not likely to forgive the ultra-libertarian candidate. According to Alonso, Milei is a product of right-wing groups from other countries who are gaining influence globally. Now, they are targeting Argentina.


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