Argentines will go to the polls on Sunday
Argentines will go to the polls on Sunday for a nail-biting election showdown between Economy Minister Sergio Massa and political outsider and self-described "anarcho-capitalist" Javier Milei. AFP

As Argentina gets closer to a consequential election between Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa and outsider Libertarian economist Javier Milei, current and former Iberoamerican heads of state publicly stated who they would rather see win on Sunday.

Among those who directly or implicitly supported Massa were left-wing presidents Gustavo Petro (Colombia), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil), Pedro Sanchez (Spain) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO (Mexico). Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica also said he would vote for Massa if he were Argentine.

In contrast, nine former right-wing presidents signed a letter this week in support of Milei: among them were Sebastian Piñera (Chile), Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox (Mexico), Ivan Duque and Andres Pastrana (Colombia) and Mariano Rajoy (Spain). Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel Literature Prize winner and a high-profile supporter of the Latin American right, also signed the letter.

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri was also among the signatories, but he had already thrown his weight behind Milei after Patricia Bullrich, his party's candidate, failed to make it to the runoff following October 22's primary elections. The runoff will take place on Sunday amid a context of complete uncertainty regarding the winner, as most polls fall within the margin of error.

The statements from the current presidents varied in tone. Petro and AMLO adopted more combative stances, openly criticizing the Libertarian economist.

The former claimed that a Milei victory would "take us back" to dictatorships such as "Pinochet and Videla," making references to the leaders of military juntas that ruled Argentina and Chile decades ago. "Or it can be Massa, who opens paths of hope," Petro added.

"Argentina will not only decide the future of its people, but also the hope of America. They will decide between hope and barbarism. Don't doubt. You never have to vote for barbarism, always for hope," he concluded.

AMLO used similar language to describe Milei, calling him an "ultra-conservative fascist" during his routine morning press conferences. "Argentina's Milei. A fascist. He's even against the Pope," said the president, in reference to previous criticism to the pontiff made by Milei, who once called him "the representative of the devil on Earth" and said that he "boosted communism, which goes against the holy scriptures."

Brazil's Lula, on his end, took a more diplomatic tone, not mentioning the candidate directly but referencing statements of his in which Milei called him a communist and "corrupt" and said he would break commercial relations with Brazil, one of the country's largest trading partners.

"We are Argentina's largest trading partner in South America. I have good relations with many Argentine ex presidents. And I ask for Argentines to remember that we need a president who appreciates democracy and values the relations between our countries."

Spanish President Pedro Sanchez published a video on social media in which he said Massa "offers a project of unity, represents tolerance and dialogue and bets on democratic coexistence."

"In a complex and uncertain global context like the one were living in, we need to strengthen our democracies, adopt policies that provide answers to people's needs, especially the most vulnerable," Sanchez added.

In contrast, the letter in support of Milei stated that "Argentina's only way out is through political and economic freedom, respect of the rule of law and private property, as well as the liberal democracies' rulebook, social market economy, social justice and modernity."

"(Milei) is a candidate new to politics, whom we certainly have many differences but who also believes in the ideas of freedom and has an accurate diagnosis of the country's economic problems," adds the document.

Even though Massa took the first place in the first round, with 36 percent of the votes against Milei's 30, many voters who comprised Bullrich's 23 percent seem to be ideologically closer to the libertarian, making it a coin-toss race.

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