Javier Milei, presidente de Argentina. Foto: Tomada de la red social X.

The controversial statements by Javier Milei, as president of Argentina, have put at risk significant commercial ties and regional integration.

By Flavia Campeis – Jorgelina Tomasin


Since the arrival of Javier Milei as president of Argentina in December 2023, the country’s positioning in terms of foreign policy has changed dramatically. From Lula, passing through Boric, and even to Petro, the Argentine president has made controversial statements that jeopardize the continuity of important commercial ties and the project of Latin American integration. How does the map in Latin America shape up with Milei in Argentina? Does this country risk being isolated or will it find some external allies?

The chainsaw, the tool Milei raised during his presidential campaign to announce that he would cut various areas of the State, public spending, and strip privileges from what he calls «the political caste,» will it also go through the link with Latin America?

Neglected Diplomacy

His transnational disputes began long before he was elected when he called former president Lula Da Silva «communist and corrupt» and invited former president Jair Bolsonaro to his inauguration, saying it would be «a huge honor, it would be something beautiful» for him. Despite Brazil being Argentina’s main trading partner, Milei never showed interest in maintaining that relationship. The appointment of Peronist Daniel Scioli as Secretary of Tourism, Environment, and Sports of the Nation left the Embassy in Brasilia without a head, and Argentina only has consulates for diplomatic representation.

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On the other hand, regarding the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, when the leader expressed his support for then-presidential candidate from Colombia, Gustavo Petro, Milei said: «López Obrador’s actions are truly pathetic, regrettable, and repugnant» and considered his economic, social, and cultural management a failure.

Transnational disputes

As for the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, Milei indicated in an interview with a media outlet from that country two months before taking office that it would be good if Chileans could get rid of the «impoverisher Boric.» However, the Chilean president attended Milei’s inauguration on December 10, 2023, and stated: «Despite the public and well-known differences I may have with President Milei, I wish for the good of the Argentine people that he has a successful tenure.» A month later, in an interview, Milei referred to Boric again, saying that «he is someone who has the wrong ideas.»

Likewise, in an interview with a Colombian media outlet, Milei labeled President Gustavo Petro as a «murderous communist.» Later, at a meeting in the United States in February, during the Conservative Political Action Conference, Milei said that Petro was «a lethal plague» for Colombians.

A few days after taking office, the Argentine government announced that it would not appoint new ambassadors to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, where the administration of former President Alberto Fernández had made political appointments. Diplomacy is not a resource that Milei deems necessary to handle relations with other states.

Additionally, Foreign Minister Diana Mondino stated in a television interview—without providing evidence or making formal accusations—that there were «infiltrators from Cuba and Venezuela» in Argentina with destabilizing purposes.

During his presidential campaign, in an interview with a U.S. media outlet, Javier Milei asserted: «I believe that Mercosur should be eliminated because it is a defective customs union that harms law-abiding Argentines.»

Mercosur is a trade bloc that has been functioning since 1991. The current government is attempting to revive the agreement with the European Union, a move to which countries like France vehemently oppose.

«Out» of Latin America

«Out» is one of the most used words by the government of «La Libertad Avanza.» It is the word that Milei used during his campaign to indicate that he would eliminate most ministries, which he has fulfilled. The same analysis can be applied to his relationship with progressive governments in Latin America, as on every occasion when discussing foreign policy, both the president and the chancellor have emphasized that the government’s geopolitical alignment is with the United States and Israel and against governments they consider leftist, communist, or populist.

A government with «ideological overload»

International politics specialist Santiago Toffoli analyzes this situation and asserts that «the government’s ideological overload to date shows that a dogmatic profile prevails.»

The graduate in International Relations explained that what characterizes Javier Milei’s government in terms of foreign policy is a profound ideological bias in international relations. Since taking office on December 10, there have been several decisions made based on ideological considerations.

The first decision announced during the campaign was the rejection of joining the Brics alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), where Argentina would have had the opportunity to find new partners for investments in energy.» And he added, «this is the first sign of how the Milei government, by not accepting a pattern of engagement that diverged from Western interests, missed out on an important opportunity to engage with other countries.»

Toffoli also analyzed that «some issues related to endangering Argentina’s two most important and strategic relationships, one with Brazil and the other with China, the first concrete decisions were also in line with this extreme ideological bias in Foreign Relations.» Regarding Brazil, Toffoli explained that «today, the concrete fact is that Argentina does not have an ambassador in Brazil, we do not have a representative other than consuls, and on the other hand, concerning symbolism, Milei invited Jair Bolsonaro to his inauguration and not Lula da Silva.»

China vs. Argentina

The analyst explained that «the same thing happened with China, something very strange occurred. Argentina, which currently has China as its main trading partner, received a visit from Agustín Romo, who is close to President Milei, to the Taiwan Trade Office, where Argentina was given 300 Christmas boxes, and as a result, China demanded payment for the currency swap that it had closed with the government of Alberto Fernández towards the end of his term. External restrictions, trade relations, and opportunities for investments and possible new markets are greatly conditioned by these purely ideological stances because getting closer to or engaging with Taiwan cannot benefit Argentina in any way; in fact, China is not an actor that measures its relations in terms of commercial or even political issues based on ideological considerations.»

«Considering the macroeconomic difficulties facing Argentina, which are largely determined by external constraints and the external front, all these decisions also contribute to Argentina having fewer and fewer tools in terms of foreign policy to address this situation,» Toffoli assessed.

Isolation of Argentina in Latin America?

Regarding Colombia, Toffoli explained that Milei «out of nowhere called another head of state, Gustavo Petro, a communist and a murderer, I think that damages the bilateral relationship.»

Regarding Uruguay, Milei conceded that it could dredge the Magdalena canal, which enters the port of Montevideo. This was a dispute over shared territorial waters, and now the port of Montevideo has many more commercial advantages in logistical terms than Argentine ports.

On the other hand, regarding the violence situation in Ecuador, he recalled that «Chancellor Diana Mondino called drug traffickers socialist terrorists, once again bringing ideological issues into a security matter that may have little to do with ideology. The groups linked to organized crime do not have a political agenda as could happen in other moments of history in other countries, but this does not happen in Ecuador.»

«So I believe that if the government continues in this line of extreme ideological relationships with other countries, not only will Argentine interests be harmed, but Argentina will also be able to contribute little to the resolution of common problems. This would lead to Argentina’s isolation in terms of Latin American integration in order to align itself with Israel and the United States.»


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