Madrid leader accused of ‘deep disloyalty’ to Spain for hosting Javier Milei

Isabel Díaz Ayuso received Mr Milei on Friday
Isabel Díaz Ayuso received Mr Milei on Friday - Reuters/Violeta Santos Moura

The leader of Spain’s Madrid region has been accused of “deep disloyalty” to the country for hosting Argentina’s controversial leader, Javier Milei.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso received Mr Milei on Friday despite him recently launching a tirade against the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, calling him “totalitarian” and a “coward”.

Mr Milei has become a deeply divisive figure at home as he brings about drastic reforms to revive the economy.

He has also adopted an unfiltered approach to his language, much like Donald Trump, the former US president, for whom he has openly expressed admiration.

On a visit to Madrid last month he took aim at Mr Sánchez, calling his wife Begoña Gómez corrupt after she was placed under investigation by a Spanish judge for alleged influence peddling. She has not made any comment since the court opened the investigation in late April.

After Mr Milei refused to apologise, Spain withdrew its ambassador to Argentina in response, calling it an “unprecedented lack of respect”.

Mr Milei’s current visit to Spain was initially scheduled so that he could receive an award from an ultra-liberal think tank, but Ms Díaz Ayuso then announced she would be presenting him with the Madrid region’s International Medal, citing the “deep historical, cultural, linguistic and economic ties” between the Spanish capital and Argentina.

Conservative firebrand

A Spanish government source told The Telegraph the move by Ms Díaz Ayuso was one of “immense disloyalty”, and said that any new insults by Mr Milei would meet with “the appropriate response”.

The source also accused Mr Milei of provocation by asking for an audience with Spain’s King Felipe VI, even though he had not discussed the possibility of an official visit to Spain with the government. The request was declined.

Ms Díaz Ayuso, a conservative firebrand who has established herself as a direct enemy of Mr Sánchez, said it would be “an honour to welcome a legitimate president”. She compared Mr Milei’s comfortable victory in last year’s Argentine election to Mr Sánchez’s position as head of a minority coalition government backed by Catalan separatists and other regional and Left-wing parties.

Ms Díaz Ayuso presented Mr Milei with the Madrid region's International Medal
Ms Díaz Ayuso presented Mr Milei with the Madrid region's International Medal - Shutterstock/Sergio R Moreno

From Madrid, Mr Milei is due to meet Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, where officials described Argentina as “one of Germany’s most important economic partners in Latin America” in announcing the visit, but it has since been scaled back.

The military honours and press conference have been struck from the plan, which is now a “very short working visit” lasting about an hour.

Fernando Brun, Argentina’s ambassador to Germany, said the meeting between Mr Milei and Mr Scholz will be a “business style” encounter.

Neither government has commented on the apparent downgrade of the visit, but Mr Scholz’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said on Monday that Mr Milei’s behaviour during the spat with Mr Sánchez was “in bad taste”.

Argentine opposition leaders have expressed concern that Mr Milei’s bruising approach to international affairs is doing damage to the country’s credibility and foreign relations.

Relations have soured with Spain

Mr Milei celebrated the gains by far-Right parties in Europe’s recent parliamentary elections, even claiming credit for them in one interview.

Alberto Fernández, his predecessor as president, said Mr Milei was “isolating Argentina from the rest of the world”, as relations have soured with Spain as well as several leading Latin American nations including Mexico and Brazil.

Rodrigo de Loredo, leader of the opposition UCR bloc in Argentina’s parliament, criticised Mr Milei’s “rock star” approach to diplomacy.

He said: “Argentina needs to export more and on better terms, meaning we need precise and respectable diplomacy that must start with the government leader.”

However, Mr Milei’s profile was boosted by a visit to last week’s G7 summit in Italy, where Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, showed affection for the Argentine leader and posted an Italian translation of his Long Live Freedom! motto on her X social media account.