A prominent LGBTQ activist in Argentina on Sunday won a seat in the country’s Congress.
Esteban Paulón, who lives in Rosario, a city in Santa Fe province, is the former president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People. The Santa Fe Socialist Party member finished first on La Fuerza de Santa Fe ticket.
“I feel an enormous joy and responsibility,” Paulón exclusively told the Washington Blade after officials announced the results. “I get to represent on the one hand the Socialist Party that has a history of more than 127 years in Argentina … and in turn my province and the LGBT community.”
Paulón noted he was the only openly gay candidate in the election.
“I am going to defend my community, to represent the Socialist Party and to resist the pretensions of the most reactionary and conservative sectors of Argentina that have entered Congress with force in this election, regardless of the fact that the presidency has not yet been defined,” he said.
Massa, Milei to face off in presidential election’s second round
Economy Minister Sergio Massa on Sunday won 36.68 percent of the votes in the first round of the country’s presidential election. Libertarian economist Javier Milei received 29.98 percent of the vote.
The two men will face off in the election’s second round that will take place on Nov. 19 because neither one on Sunday received more than 45 percent of the votes or at least 40 percent and a difference of at least 10 percentage points over the runner-up.
Massa, the ruling Peronism party’s candidate, to the surprise of many election observers won center-left votes. He will compete for the presidency without being bogged down by the fact that he oversees the economy of a country with an inflation rate of nearly 140 percent.
Milei has proposed dollarizing the economy and abolishing Argentina’s Central Bank, among other radical measures.
The winner of the presidential election will have to tackle the economic crisis and $44 billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund.
Paulón, along with LGBTQ activists, expressed concern that so many Argentines voted for Milei, who opposes marriage equality and trans rights. They also note he has pledged to close the country’s Women, Genders and Diversity Ministry.
“Milei’s advance is a concrete risk because he has said it concretely, he has specifically had anti-rights proposals,” said Paulón. “The Socialist Party, for our part, will never support Miley’s candidacy.”
“Milei’s negationist, homophobic, misogynist and anti-rights discourse obviously represents a risk because it has been installed in the public debate,” he added. “We have to work now so that he does not become president.”
Paulón told the Blade that Milei’s rise is due to “the social discontent in Argentina, an economic situation that is not recovering, concrete difficulties for many people and Javier Milei appears as an emergent of something that comes from outside the system and that should come to change everything.”
“That coming from outside and showing himself as someone outside the political system is very much associated with everything that has to do with verbal violence, physical violence, denial of the other,” said Paulón. “His whole campaign is based on violence, but the crisis is indeed so deep that an important part of the population has decided to vote for him.”