Thursday, July 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 09-07-2024 15:21

Tank poses, gifts and a toast – Milei’s Independence Day military parade

President Javier Milei jumps into a tank with Vice-President Victoria Villarruel as he stages a military parade in Buenos Aires to mark the 208th anniversary of Independence Day.

President Javier Milei staged a colourful military parade in Buenos Aires on Tuesday as the nation marked the 208th anniversary of Independence Day. 

Milei, 53, played up to his headline-grabbing style by jumping into a yellow TAM 2C-A2 tank at one point with his Vice-President Victoria Villarruel at the event.

The outspoken ultra-liberal leader, who travelled down to the capital after the midnight signing of his political ‘May Pact’ with governors in Tucumán Province, was joined at the event by almost all his Cabinet ministers.

The only absentees were the Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello, who did not attend the traditional Te Deum at the City’s Metropolitan Cathedral and Health Minister, Mario Russo, who left the party at the end of the religious ceremony.

Despite a fierce winter chill and low temperatures, thousands of women, men and children came to witness the march, which featured more than 7,000 troops over a two-hour military parade – the first on Independence Day for five years.

Among those in attendance on Tuesday, in addition to most of Milei’s Cabinet, were Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri, US Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley and the President’s parents.

The event began at 11am with the deployment of the Air Force, with more than 60 aircraft taking to the skies over the city.  Then, delegations of ex-combatants from the 1982 Malvinas War marched before President Milei and his government, with one group of soldiers bringing gifts to the head of state and Villarruel, who comes from a military family and is a vocal supporter of the Armed Forces.

That was a notable act, given that at least one group of Malvinas veterans close to the former government announced prior to proceedings that they would not attend the event, citing the “lack of respect” shown and the “absurd” statements by Milei previously about the disputed archipelago. 

Milei is a vocal admirer of late former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who led the United Kingdom during the brief 1982 war between Argentina and Britain.

“We reject this staging, this contradiction on the part of the government, which wants to appear to be nationalist while pursuing policies to the contrary,” saud Ernesto Alonso, a member of the Centro de Ex Combatientes de La Plata (Centre of Former Combatants of La Plata), who was drafted into the war at the age of 19.

“But the most grotesque thing is to expect us to parade alongside those who tortured us,” remarked Alonso, the driving force behind a Supreme Court case involving more than 100 complaints from ex-combatants who claim to have been buried in the snow, tied to stakes or deprived of food by their superiors while fighting on the islands.

“How are we going to parade before a president who worships Margaret Thatcher?” said Alonso.

“How are we going to parade if the pilots of the death flights, the appropriators of babies and torturers are hiding under that mention of war veterans?” Alonso said, referring to the crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

The ex-combatants also questioned the “unnecessary expense of a parade when there are people dying of hunger and cold in the richest district in the country.”



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