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ARGENTINA | 06-12-2023 12:10

Javier, Conan and the clones: Argentina's new president doggedly devoted to cloned pooches

Argentina's ultra-libertarian president-elect Javier Milei may be considered barking mad by some, but is nothing if not devoted to his "four-legged children": Conan, Milton, Murray, Robert and Lucas.

He dedicated his election victory to them: the clones he had made of his beloved dog, Conan. Argentina's ultra-libertarian president-elect Javier Milei may be considered barking mad by some, but is nothing if not devoted to his "four-legged children."

The death in 2017 of Conan – a mastiff he named after the muscled fictional hero Conan the Barbarian – hit Milei hard, he has said.

"I have had very, very bad moments in my life. And the only ones who stood by me were my sister and Conan. Neither my sister nor Conan ever betrayed me. Never. Loyalty is paid with loyalty," Milei recently said on the subject.

He was so distraught that he sent cells to US-based cloning firm PerPETuate, which states on its website that five pups were the result.

According to El Loco, an unauthorised biography by journalist Juan Luis González, one of the remaining five was also named Conan and the other four after economists Milei admires: Milton for Milton Friedman, Murray for Murray Rothbard and Robert and Lucas, after Robert Lucas.

The book also claims the wild-haired Milei consults all his dogs – dead and alive – with the help of a medium specialised in "interspecies communication."

Once asked what he thought about being dubbed crazy, Milei replied: "The difference between a genius and a madman is success."

González believes the future president's attachment to his pooches is telling of loneliness.

"He is someone who didn't develop social skills. His inner circle is very small," the author told AFP.

 

Once bitten

Mastiffs are enormous animals that can weigh up to 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds).

In 2019, Milei had to have stitches to an arm after getting in the middle of a fight between two of his dogs.

"They argue about who is the favourite and when I came out [of a room] there was this exchange between them with my arm in the middle," he said at the time.

Because of the dogs, Milei has said he gave up his apartment in Buenos Aires and moved to a house in a gated suburban community – where each had their own bedroom.

Yet the pooches have not been seen in public for years. All known pictures are from when they were puppies.

A source close to Milei said he does not "exhibit" the animals.

They have made it into the campaign, though, with Milei's unsuccessful rival Sergio Massa joking about this politician "who talks to dogs."

In October, the president-elect said he had left the dogs at daycare due to the demands of the campaign on his time.

Milei has lived for the last few weeks at the Hotel Libertador, a hotel in central Buenos Aires, from where he will move after his inauguration Sunday to the Olivos presidential residence – a 19th-century house surrounded by gardens on the outskirts of the capital.

His close connection to his dogs has not been Milei's only eyebrow-raising behaviour.

The 53-year-old has on occasion dressed up as superhero alter-ego "Captain Ancap" – short for anarcho-capitalist, and repeatedly wielded a live chainsaw as an illustration of the deep cuts he wants to make to state spending.

"Let them say what they want. Everybody has their own opinion," Milei told a talk show recently.

He has repeatedly declined requests from AFP for an interview.

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