21 November 2023, The Tablet

Slum priests left ‘afraid’ by Argentine election result

“We don’t know what to expect from a man who said so many contradictory things during the campaign.”

Slum priests left ‘afraid’ by Argentine election result

Javier Milei and his girlfriend Fatima Florez wave to supporters outside his campaign headquarters.
AP Photo / Rodrigo Abd

Slum priests in Buenos Aires have voiced alarm at the victory of Javier Milei in Argentina’s presidential election.

On Sunday, the former television pundit and economist won 56 per cent of the vote on an ultra-right wing platform. He won an 11-point lead over his nearest rival, the current economy minister Sergio Massa, who garnered 44 per cent of the vote.

Milei, 53, was the candidate for La Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances), having first entered Argentina’s Congress 36 months ago.

Fr Lorenzo de Vedia told the Crux agency that slum-dwellers were “surprised, sad and afraid” after Milei’s electoral victory.

Prone to brandishing a chainsaw on campaign, Milei has called Pope Francis a communist and an “imbecile”, although he later said he had apologised for the remarks.

Fr de Vedia, who celebrated a Mass of reparation for Milei’s insults to the Pope, described the incoming president as “unpredictable”, saying: “We don’t know what to expect from a man who said so many contradictory things during the campaign.”

Milei plans to replace the Argentine peso with the US dollar, reduce the number of government ministries from 18 to eight, and “progressively” remove social benefits. He also plans to hold a plebiscite to overturn Argentina’s 2020 law legalising abortion.

Fr Francisco Olveira, from the progressive clergy group An Option for the Poor said he was “very afraid about what will come. We don’t know what will happen and we don’t want to live in a country like that – Milei’s country.’”

Bishop Oscar Ojea of San Isidro, the president of the Argentine bishops’ conference, commented on social media on Monday: “We value the democratic day we experienced yesterday and pray the Lord will enlighten the new, elected authorities and that they may work for the common good of our people.”

Inflation in Argentina stands at 142 per cent and 40 per cent of all citizens live in poverty. The self-described “anarcho-capitalist” Milei will take office on 10 December.

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