Argentina’s ‘Madman,’ Musk Meet in Texas

Argentine President Javier Milei and Elon Musk
Argentine President Javier Milei and Elon Musk | Image by Argentinian Presidency

Argentine President Javier Milei, the “Madman” libertarian populist leader many consider a South American version of Donald Trump, met Elon Musk at Tesla headquarters in Austin on Friday.

The trip was announced by presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni earlier this week, reported Buenos Aires Times.

On Friday, Musk welcomed Milei to Tesla’s Austin headquarters, where he gave the Argentine president a tour of the facility and even let him take a test drive in the bulletproof Cybertruck. The Argentine leader, known as “El Loco,” tousled his signature unruly hair before striking a thumbs-up pose for pictures with his host.

Milei, whose moniker is somehow both disparaging and part of his appeal, stormed his way into the long-economically troubled nation’s presidency by claiming that elites in the Western world were ushering in a system of socialism that, if not halted, would ultimately destroy their societies. He claimed to be the man to do it, and for that analysis, he has been lauded by his followers, as well as by Musk.

According to a statement on X by Adorni, as translated by Google, the two men “agreed on the need to free markets and defend the ideas of freedom” and discussed “the importance of eliminating bureaucratic obstacles that keep investors away.”

The two mutual admirers may share more than just a political philosophy. Musk has set a goal for Tesla to be the only U.S. automaker to refine its own lithium, a key component in the lithium-ion batteries that store the energy that powers electric vehicles (EVs), The Texan reported.

“As we look ahead a few years, a fundamental choke point in the advancement of electric vehicles is the availability of battery-grade lithium,” Musk said during the Gigafactory’s opening ceremony, per The Texan.

Currently, 90% of lithium used in the United States is imported, with 55% of that coming from Argentina. Furthermore, the lithium market is only becoming more competitive as EVs and other battery-intensive tech like solar grow. This is especially true in China, which supplies 80% of the world’s battery cells and almost 60% of the batteries used by EVs. And China happens to be the United States’ greatest economic rival.

As a White House report in 2021 made clear, expanding battery manufacturing capacity is critical for the economy and national security, as well as for President Joe Biden’s environmentalist goals.

“High-capacity batteries — used in electric vehicles, for stationary storage, and for many defense applications — offer an important and growing market that can support the creation of American jobs, help meet our national security needs, and bring ambitious climate targets within reach,” the report reads.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article