Argentine President Javier Milei warned that the 'West is in danger'

Davos (Switzerland) (AFP) - Argentina’s libertarian new President Javier Milei slammed the threat to the West posed by socialism at the meeting of global political and business elites in Davos on Wednesday.

In his maiden trip abroad as president, the self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” took shots at “social justice” and “radical feminism” while praising entrepreneurs as “heroes” at the World Economic Forum’s meeting in the Swiss Alps.

“I am here today to tell you that the West is in danger,” Milei said, touting free-market capitalism as the only viable solution for poverty.

“It is in danger because those who are supposed to have to defend the values of the West are co-opted by a vision of the world that inexorably leads to socialism and thereby to poverty,” he said.

The 53-year-old Argentine leader, who flew to Switzerland on a commercial plane as part of his austerity image, said during his flight that the forum was “contaminated” by a socialist agenda.

But Milei, who has drawn comparisons to former US president Donald Trump, was full of praise for entrepreneurs during this speech.

Ditching his rock star-like leather jacket for a suit and tie, Milei hailed business leaders as “heroes” who should not be afraid of the “political caste” and “the parasites that live off the state”.

“The state is not the solution. The state is the problem,” he said.

“You are the true protagonists in this story. You should know that from now on, you can count on Argentina as an unconditional ally,” Milei added, ending his speech with his battle cry, “long live freedom, damn it!”

Some in the audience gathered to take shake his hand and take pictures as he left the congress hall.

- ‘There’s no money’ -

As an outsider candidate with an ageing rock star look, Milei rode a wave of anger over decades of economic decline to win the December election.

Under the punchline “there’s no money”, Milei vowed to drastically cut spending in Argentina, where inflation exceeded 200 percent last year.

He has since devalued the peso by more than 50 percent, cut state subsidies for fuel and transport and reduced the number of ministries by half.

Milei was due to meet in Davos with International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Argentina owes $44 billion to the IMF, which has welcomed Milei’s decision to eliminate price controls on some goods that were introduced by the previous government.

Milei has said the aim of his meeting is to “continue to make it very clear our conviction to change course”.

Georgieva said at a Bloomberg event in Davos on Tuesday that the Argentine government was making progress as it was moving “very aggressively” to address the country’s “shortcomings”.

Milei travelled to Davos with four members of his government including the foreign and economy ministers, plus his sister and close confidant, Karina, who is secretary general of the presidency.