“An era is ending. There is a generation of politicians that has to retire, Rafael Correa, Nicolás Maduro, Cristina Kirchner, Mauricio Macri. Fortunately I do not belong to that generation because I am from the previous one. I renew everything time, I teach at universities, I read, I am aware of the latest developments in quantum physics, in astronomy and then I do not age intellectually,” says Jaime Durán Barba, laughing. The famous Latino consultant, who has just returned to Ecuador from Argentina, is a professor at George Washington University. In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, he analyzes the profile of outsiders, compares Donald Trump with the Argentine Javier Milei and talks about Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s decision to postpone his friend Marcelo Ebrard as a candidate and appoint the former mayor of the DF Claudia Sheinbaum,
You advised Macri, who today is part of the system that generates social rejection. Is there a new type of outsider that differs from what was presented as new a few years ago?
The case of Macri was a guy who was devoured but is equal to (Abdala) Bucaram, to (Gabriel) Boric, to (Pedro) Castillo, to all the other outsiders. He is someone who comes from outside politics, kicks the board, does not respect the rules of politics, does not respect the institutions and gets a negative vote from people who are against the system. It is a phenomenon that has been studied for many years.
How and why do outsiders age so quickly?
It is their characteristic, they normally disappear within a year. Castillo is already in his house, (Guillermo) Lasso who acted as such is in his house, Boric who would fall at any time if the Chileans were not so conservative. They are phenomena that normally have no governability.
That raises big questions for democracy.
This is democracy. In the United States, for the first time, we have a president charged, prosecuted, who is increasingly popular, which is Trump. The only one in 200 years who tried to break democracy and occupy the Capitol.
What similarities do you see between Milei and Trump?
It is the same phenomenon all over the world, it is the phenomenon of subjects who are against politics and who seek a vote against the system. It doesn’t matter if they are left or right. It may be Castillo, (Jair) Bolsonaro, or Trump, it doesn’t matter.
In the case of Trump, he was able to govern from the Republican Party even though the establishment was against him.
It’s not the party. The United States is a country that navigates on autopilot no matter who the president is, even with the current old man who doesn’t even know where he is standing and keeps walking. The Biden thing is a disaster, poor thing, it makes me sad, but oh well.
Last year he didn’t do so badly in the midterm elections.
The United States is a huge ship that sails on autopilot. Presidents don’t have that much power either. In Latin countries, on the other hand, presidents are sometimes nothing short of divine.
Steve Bannon says that Trumpism is the true party of the working class and represents neglected sectors. Does it match?
There is no doubt that Trump is the candidate of the proletariat, there is no doubt. The second industrial revolution occurred in what is called the Rust Belt, which is the North American industrial belt, which had Detroit and the Great Lakes states as its main axis. The unions, the unions, the Democratic Party were there and the two elements of the second industrial revolution were produced there, which is mass production and the diffusion of electricity. They, who were the little stars of the United States, have come to play a very secondary role, when another culture emerges in California of, as they say, companies that have no assets, bookstores without books, taxi companies without taxis, which They are the prestigious startups of Silicon Valley. So the Rust Belt workers are very conservative, usually white, usually heterosexual, furious with these half-crazy people from Silicon Valley who defend all things liberal and who are experiencing the technological revolution. So, yes, Trump expresses that proletariat.
In the case of Milei there are also traditional Peronist voters who support him. He is a cross-class phenomenon, but what is surprising is the support from the lower sectors.
Of course, the fight between left and right is something very obsolete. Those on the left are very old and very reactionary. Correa is an old man who goes around talking about Cuba and Venezuela, which are things that no young person views with sympathy, instead of talking about artificial intelligence, robotics, technological change. So, Milei represents a heterogeneous society, it is a new revolution that has nothing to do with the left-right paradigm that existed until 10 years ago.
What is your vision for the elections in the United States?
This new society of the third revolution, which in some cases seems horrible to me and in others I like, continues to advance. For now, unless justice does something, I believe that the one who will win the next election is Trump. Last weekend he was in a stadium and people were raving about him. When he showed his face for the police to take his photo after being detained, there was an explosion of t-shirts and mugs. He earned 7 million dollars for that photo.
The Democrats who surround Biden think that Trump is going to easily win the primary and lose the general elections again with the president. How do you see it?
If Trump and Biden face each other, Trump wins without a doubt. I’m not saying what I would like to happen, I am a Democrat and I am totally against Trump, but these are new times. If you see when Trump enters anywhere, people jump, hug him, laugh, jump… what happens with Milei. When Milei goes somewhere, you see a lot of people shouting Freedom Move forward, damn it, you see movement. When there are Together for Change meetings, it seems that someone has died and they are holding a wake. OUTSTANDING
In Peronism it is not very different.
Well, terrible. Look at this, (Sergio) Massa almost always speaking in a solemn setting, with a tie, to men – there is almost never a woman – … millionaire men who, when they are workers, are millionaires with jackets and, when they are businessmen, millionaires with tie, but all millionaires. Not Milei, you see him jumping with one person, with another, getting involved, shouting, expressing feelings. Sergio does not shed a tear even if a relative dies.
With Cristina there was an enthusiasm during those years
Yes, also although my position may seem obsessive, I was a woman. And she was a feminine woman, she was not a Dilma Rousseff.
Why does Milei seduce in the United States and capture the attention of people like Tucker Carlson or Elon Musk?
Because a guy like Milei is more compatible with an advanced society than something like Peronism which, seen from the United States, is an antiquated thing that makes no sense. Milei is modern. He is a guy who does represent things similar to those of Trump and a constellation of similar leaders. Milei is a leader of the 21st century, hateful or whatever. People like the Peronists, like Pope Francis, the village priests, are old men from the beginning of the last century.
That is why you define Massa as the candidate of the institutions of the old corporate society.
The apparatus of the governorates, the mayoralties, the ñoquis. Massa must have half a million people campaigning paid for by the State.
But that may not be enough in a context like the current one.
A phenomenon like Milei’s is difficult to stop because they are the phenomena of the new time. It’s like someone wanting to open a typewriter store because computers are bad. It’s going to go badly for him. Right now the world is going through a colossal change in which two new species, mechanized men and robots, are going to share life.
You maintain that in Argentina Peronism and Juntos share a wrong strategy in the face of Milei’s victory in primaries.
Clear. I have always thought that if the Pope were to excommunicate me, he would have an impressive sale of my books. When the Pope attacks a presidential candidate, what he does is give him votes outright. Everyone who attacks Milei has horrible negatives. They help him.
Milei grows thanks to them.
The more people like (Elisa) Carrió attack him, Carrió right now has a 75% negative image, a totally discredited person. If a person like that attacks Milei: perfect. Mauricio is the most discredited PRO leader and appears in the campaign: perfect.
How much of a negative image does Macri have today?
It’s about 68.
Cristina decides not to appear for the moment. Do you think she is doing well?
He is acting very well to help Massa. Because if he shows up, he takes away votes. Cristina is very clever, she is not stupid.
How does Juntos get out of the promise of austerity and the silly closeness with Milei that you talked about?
To begin with, Milei has a problem reaching out to women, objectively. Massa doesn’t have good luck with that target either. If I had been advising Patricia (Bullrich), I would have made the candidate a woman, the mother, the grandmother who with feelings seeks the presidency because she is the only one who can contest the feminine field. What I did with Marina Silva in Brazil. But Patricia looks more like a man than a woman.
Some will vote for it, but now it is insufficient.
If I were a voter who wanted a male and authoritarian candidate, I have a very good candidate, why vote for a similar candidate? I vote for Milei.
She says she is poorly advised.
I also talked about that with Patricia last Monday. I told her: “You are a woman in a sexist country like all Latinos and it seems that the candidates are two men who rule, Melco and Mauricio.” It is fatal. It is always fatal, but after the experience of the puppet that we have had these four years in Argentina, he has the title of president and does not command anything, it is even worse. It is a very bad time to present yourself as a woman managed by male bosses.
You say that the 31% who did not go to vote today are not a product of disinterest but rather they are angry. Do you think they are closer to voting for Milei than anyone else?
Definitely. The current undecided person is not like that of ancient times. Before, the one who said I don’t know who the candidate is, I’m not interested, was undecided. The current undecided people are very active, so yes, it is more likely for such an undecided person to vote for someone who rejects the system than to vote for someone who does not reject it.
Do you think there is a mistake when it is thought that it can favor the forces that remained behind Milei?
The undecided will easily respond in favor of Milei’s show, regardless of what he says or thinks. I am angry with the system and I see a guy who lives insulting everyone, shouting: perfect, I like this one. In some ways, (Santiago) Kovadloff, who launched Patricia’s book, is what I wouldn’t vote for if I’m undecided and angry with the system. They (Alberto) Fernánadez and Massa left you with only one piece of bread. I’m going to take it away from you so that in 20 years things will go well for you. Nice message, it’s for them to chase you away with brooms.
Milei’s message does not promise suffering and can be effective in winning the election. But what can happen if Milei voters find that the adjustment hits them squarely?
With every president there are going to be problems because the world is ungovernable for everyone, but if Milei dollarizes he could have a huge popularity boost.
You say that dollarization worked very well in Ecuador, but Argentina is a different country.
In Ecuador, not even Correa, who is an anti-imperialist militant, could touch dollarization. They killed him. People love dollarization.
It is surprising that he compared Milei with AMLO because he said that he was not going to make the adjustment regarding politics.
That was AMLO’s demagogy. Don’t worry, I’m not going to touch a penny of anything, I’m going to finance the deficit by removing the ministers’ positions. It is theoretically nonsense and any economist would say the same, but people say: it is not against me.
He has been advising Marcelo Ebrard for years, who has just been postponed by AMLO as a candidate. What analysis do you make of the electoral political scenario in Mexico?
AMLO is authoritarian, he was always against Marcelo, he made every possible trick to make Marcelo lose the poll and finally he even prevented Marcelo’s delegates from attending the opening of the poll that marginalized him. So, all this caused a crisis and Marcelo is going his way. I believe that this could mean the defeat of AMLO in the elections.
Do you think that AMLO’s candidate, the former mayor of DF, Claudia Sheimbaun, can lose the elections?
I think so.
But with whom? With the opposition or with Ebrard?
It remains to be seen, but Marcelo’s departure delegitimizes Claudia’s choice and opens a door to emptiness.
Are you going to accompany him in the campaign?
He is one of my best friends, we have been friends for decades and I will help him in any way I can.
Is there no chance that Ebrard will withdraw from the candidacy?
Mmm… All of this is being discussed, it is still not clear what we will do, but we will fight.
What can they offer Ebrard to get him off?
Nothing. Marcelo has already been everything he could be. He was head of the city government, chancellor, he is a brilliant intellectual, he is not a guy who lives for and from politics.
Why do you think AMLO doesn’t love you and plays against you?
AMLO is from the old left, he still admires Maduro, he is a person who lives in the Sargasso Sea next to Cuba. Marcelo is a very prepared person, he speaks several languages, he is a professor at the School of Higher Studies in Paris and he is a guy from another level.
Do you see coordinated movements in the extreme right of Trump, Bolsonaro and Milei?
There are people who like that, but I don’t think any of them have any influence anywhere. Nor the Puebla Group in which the old people on the left are, nor the club on the right led by Vargas Llosa, in which Mauricio is. They are retired clubs that have no importance.
Trumpism’s handling of social media is very shocking.
Yes, but in Argentina there are people who also know how to do that very well, I have taken them to work with me in Colombia and Mexico. The phenomenon of networks is a global phenomenon, there are very prepared people in several countries.
In the interview with The Economist, Milei attacked Marcos Peña and said that he was a victim of trolls.
Marcos Peña never had trolls. He criticizes anyone who questions his position.
It draws attention because Peña has been out of politics for a long time.
Completely. Between Marcos and Milei, there is no comparison. One is a serious intellectual and the other is a successful clown.
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