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Elon Musk and Javier Milei share their love of free markets in first meeting

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Argentina’s libertarian president Javier Milei and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk met for the first time on Friday, cementing a social media friendship between two firebrand free-market proponents known for railing against government over-reach and progressive cultural values.

The pair, who have traded supportive messages over the past year on Musk’s X platform, met at Tesla’s factory in Austin, Texas, and discussed “the need to liberate markets” and “the importance of eliminating bureaucratic obstacles that keep investors away”, according to a statement from Milei’s office.

Gerardo Werthein, Argentina’s ambassador to the US who attended the meeting with Musk, told Argentine media that the pair had also “discussed investment opportunities” for Tesla in lithium, the metal crucial to electric vehicle batteries, of which Argentina has some of the world’s largest reserves.

Milei, a libertarian economist and former television pundit, won an unexpected election victory in November on a pledge to slash spending and lower inflation. He has since courted a diverse range of figures aligned with the global right, from techno-libertarian Musk to former US president Donald Trump and Brazil’s far-right former leader Jair Bolsonaro.

Meetings with such figures in recent months have delighted Milei’s domestic base, as have fiery speeches defending free market ideals at the World Economic Forum in January and at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, casting him into the international spotlight.

Last September Musk shared an interview with Milei by former Fox News journalist Tucker Carlson, and later celebrated his election victory, saying “prosperity is ahead for Argentina”.

Milei is a prolific user of X, telling the Financial Times in February that he spends “two or three hours a day” on Musk’s platform and other social media.

As well as a defence of free market values, Milei and Musk have expressed similar support for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza — with both travelling to the country to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months. Each also has a tense relationship with some leftist governments.

Milei, who labelled Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva “corrupt” on the campaign trail, “offered [Musk] collaboration in the conflict that social network X is having in Brazil”. Last week the company criticised Brazilian judges’ orders for it to censor “certain popular accounts”. 

On Sunday Musk, who declares himself a “free speech absolutist”, called for a Brazilian supreme court justice to “resign or be impeached”. Brazil’s attorney-general then called for “urgent regulation” of social media platforms, including X. It is unclear how Milei’s support might affect the dispute.

Opposition politicians in Argentina have criticised Milei’s trip to the US — his third since his election in November — as “personal”, and a distraction from his busy domestic agenda.

Before meeting Musk, the president, who has expressed a spiritual interest in Judaism, travelled to Miami, where he was honoured as “an international ambassador of light” by a Jewish community group for his support of Israel.

Back in Argentina, Milei’s La Libertad Avanza coalition faced a political crisis in congress on Friday, with three lawmakers breaking from the bloc following a dispute with the president’s top advisers, which will shrink his already tiny minority of 41 out of 257 seats in the lower house.

Yet Milei appeared jubilant in images he shared on X of his meeting with Musk, captioned with his catchphrase: “long live freedom dammit!”

Musk also posted a picture of the two together, with the caption: “To an exciting & inspiring future!”

The president’s office said he and Musk had agreed to hold “a large event soon in Argentina to promote the ideas of freedom”.

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