Argentina's president-elect Javier Milei confirmed on Monday that he had chosen former vice-presidential candidate Luis Petri of Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) to succeed Jorge Taiana as Defense Minister on Dec. 10.
The announcement was not welcomed by hardline libertarians, as Milei had initially promised that areas such as security and defense would be handled by Vice President-elect Victoria Villarruel. The daughter of a 1982 war veteran, Villarruel is known for her ties to the armed forces, particularly those prosecuted for crimes against humanity in the 1970s, whose cause she defended as a lawyer.
In the end, Security was left to former JxC presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich and Defense to her running mate. During a televised vice presidential debate, Villarruel and Petri exchanged verbal blows and even blocked each other on social networks. For now, the help of former president Mauricio Macri to win the Nov. 19 runoff has not come cheap for Milei.
The choice of Petri, a lawyer from the Radical Civic Union (UCR) - a party within the supposedly defunct JxC alliance - has also reportedly caused another rift between Bullrich and Macri who would have preferred somebody else, albeit from his own ranks
In 2013, Petri was elected to the lower house of Congress, where he served two terms until 2021. Ideologically, he is remembered for voting against the bill on voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion).
He also gained notoriety for his personal relationship with TV and radio news anchor Cristina Pérez. He has a son from a previous relationship.
With Petri's selection, Milei has completed the most visible leaders of his future government: all eight cabinet ministers and the speakers of both houses of Congress: Martín Menem (Lower House) and Francisco Paoltroni (Senate), both from his La Libertad Avanza (LLA) party, despite pressure from Macri.