Milei’s cloned dogs steal limelight in Argentina election

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BUENOS AIRES, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Argentina’s presidential election favorite, libertarian economist Javier Milei, made an unconventional speech after he pulled off a shock first place in the country’s August primaries, dedicating the triumph to his “kids with four paws.” As Argentina votes in the general election on Sunday, Milei’s cloned mastiffs have become a media sensation, reflecting the quirky nature of the candidate who has shaken up election season pledging to “chainsaw” the political status quo. The 53-year-old economist paid a reported $50,000 to clone his original dog Conan, which he adopted in 2004 and died in 2017. He told local media that Conan was one of his closest friends and confidants, who always stood by him. The result, according to the cloning company, was at least four “grandchildren”: Murray, Milton, Robert and Lucas, who are named for Milei’s economist idols including Milton Friedman. Milei has appeared publicly with them. Journalist Juan Luis Gonzalez, who wrote a book “El Loco” about Milei, has documented a fifth clone, who shares the name Conan, a reference to the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian.” The rise of Milei, a former TV “shock jock” pundit who only entered politics a few years ago, has shaken up the Argentine political establishment, which he has railed against as a “caste.” He is the favorite to win the Sunday vote ahead of Economy Minister Sergio Massa and mainstream conservative Patricia Bullrich in what most pollsters see as a close three-way race. There will likely be a second round run-off in November. Milei’s adoration of his dogs is notable. He has used a medium to talk to his dogs and called them the “best strategists in the world” at his closing campaign this week. “Do you know who were the only ones always by my side?” Milei said in an August interview with Argentine media, referring to a tough period in his life. “My sister and Conan.” Gonzalez, the journalist and biographer, said that when the original Conan had been alive Milei would give him champagne and treat him like part of the family. “For Milei, Conan was like a son,” he said. After Conan’s death, Milei sent the dog’s DNA sample to animal cloning firm PerPETuate, which has written publicly about cloning Milei’s dogs on its company website. Through a medium, Milei’s original dog, he alleges, gave him the mission of becoming Argentina’s president, which he could – against the odds – pull off today or next month. As Milei’s political profile has soared, his dogs have become a point of criticism. Opponent Massa recently took a jab at Milei for “talking about his dogs as if they were children.” In a TV interview this month Milei responded to the pup-related criticism. “They can say what they want. Everyone gives their opinion,” he said. Read Next article with gallery Americascategory Crisis-hit Argentina votes, with radical frontrunner in spotlight 2:26 PM UTC · Updated ago article with gallery Future of Moneycategory Analysis: Time for central bank digital currencies to prove their worth 8:08 AM UTC Middle Eastcategory Israel did not strike Gaza hospital, Canada says 3:16 AM UTC Americascategory Venezuelans vote in opposition primary clouded by uncertainty 6:03 AM UTC Reporting by Anna-Catherine Brigida; Additional reporting by Candelaria Grimberg; Editing by Andrea Ricci Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Acquire Licensing Rights, opens new tab Anna-Catherine Brigida Thomson Reuters Anna-Catherine Brigida is a correspondent in Buenos Aires, where she has covered Argentine politics and economics since 2023. From 2015 to 2022, she was based in Central America as a freelance reporter, where she covered migrant caravans, historic human rights trials, key elections, reproductive rights and more in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. She has a special interest in covering cryptocurrencies since she began reporting on the topic after El Salvador’s 2021 landmark decision to make Bitcoin legal tender. Her investigation into the murder of deportees in El Salvador was selected as a 2019 finalist in international reporting for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.

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