Far-right Argentine president in controversial second visit to Madrid

Far-right Argentine president in controversial second visit to Madrid

Argentine President Javier Milei returned to Spain on Friday, just weeks after his previous visit to Madrid worsened a diplomatic crisis engulfing the long-standing allies.

Milei’s latest trip to Spain, like his three-day stay in May, did not include any plans for meetings with senior Spanish officials.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said Milei's visit was private, and the Argentine president's office did not list the trip as an official engagement.

However, the self-described anarcho-capitalist did meet with Madrid’s powerful right-wing regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who is an outspoken opponent of Spain's socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Last month, Milei met only Sánchez’s fiercest critics: members of the hard-right, anti-immigrant Vox party. During that stay, Milei also accused the Spanish prime minister’s wife of corruption and described socialism as “cursed and carcinogenic.”

In response, Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador from Buenos Aires – a move Milei chided as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.”

Milei has generated a number of diplomatic spats with his outspoken style and controversial opinions since becoming president last December.

The feud with Spain could have economic repercussions for Milei, who is trying to slash his country’s triple-digit inflation.

Spain is Argentina’s second-biggest foreign investor after the United States, with Spanish companies investing 140 million euros in the country in 2022. Some 495,000 Spaniards live in Argentina, according to Spanish government statistics, while 97,000 Argentines reside in Spain.

Milei was scheduled to go to Germany on Saturday and was due in the Czech Republic on Monday.

In Germany, Milei had originally planned to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz who, like Sánchez is a centre-left leader whose politics and style contrast sharply with those of Milei, on Sunday. But a greeting with military honours and a joint news conference that the German government were later cancelled.

Scholz’s spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, said on Friday it would be a “very short working visit, expressly at the wish of the Argentine president” and that there had been a “clear refusal” by Milei to hold a news conference.