Karina Milei speaks with a security man amid a crowd of people who gathered to greet presidential candidate Javier Milei on Sunday. Tiago Ramírez Baquero
A crowd waited Sunday for Javier Milei, 53, at the polling station in Buenos Aires where he voted shortly after noon. The scene was chaotic. A swarm of supporters, dozens of journalists recounting the latest news live on television, wardrobe-sized bodyguards surrounded the far-right candidate's car and, suddenly, the door opens and a skinny, petite woman dyed blond comes out. It's 51-year-old Karina Milei, the little sister of the president-elect tonight, the person he trusts most, his campaign strategist, his stylist, the person he considers "the Messiah." Privately, he calls her Kari; in public, El Jefe, thus, in masculine, or first lady.
Now that Javier Milei has swept the elections, the spotlight is on this powerful and discreet woman who likes to dress in intense colors.
Many in Argentina consider her the grey brain of the Milei phenomenon. Since he burst like a whirlwind into Argentine politics — for some as an essential breath of fresh air, for others as a grave danger — Milei has left many statements that are difficult to forget. There are also some dedicated to Karina. "You know Moses was a great leader, but he wasn't good at spreading. So, God sent Oron to divulge. Well, Kari is Moses and I'm the one who divulges. I'm just a communicator," Milei explained during an interview, emotional and in tears. By then, Milei was already a deputy. There was a year left before the presidential campaign. Months later, the next president was in a meeting with some rabbis when they talked about the Messiah, whose return to Jerusalem the Jews await, and the politician intervened: "What happens that the Messiah is my sister, he has already arrived," according to the local press. The rabbis must have been stunned.
Karina Elizabeth Milei is two years younger than her only sibling. Little is known about her, what the politician has said, what the allies and detractors of the couple leak, both of them, and little else. She keeps a low profile. He doesn't give interviews, few have heard his voice.
They are the children of a married couple consisting of a bus driver and a housewife. They grew up in the Villa Devoto neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and both went to the same Catholic school. Both are single, with no children. And they have been a professional couple for years.
Karina always had a very close relationship with Javier, who as a child was abused by his father in the face of his mother's complicit silence, something that he has forgiven us, and who was bullied by his schoolmates. The son has not spoken to his parents for years, in public he calls them "parents". She, on the other hand, maintains a relationship with them. In that solitude that accompanied the president-elect Milei in childhood and adolescence, Karina was often the only company.
Representative of the La Libertad Avanza party, she signed the letter in which the party denounced "a colossal fraud" in the final stretch of the campaign that the party recanted the next day. But she did not even deign to respond to the summons of the electoral authorities.
"You always have to have someone to report to. In my case, I report to my sister," said Deputy Milei in another interview. She is the person who for years manages his agenda, his interviews, his conferences in Argentina and abroad. And she is the keeper, the person who controls who has access, and who doesn't, to the economist who has burst like an earthquake into Argentine politics. A control he exercised with an iron fist as his older brother advanced in his race for the Presidency.
With a degree in Public Relations, she studied pastry, is an amateur sculptor and was the co-owner of a tire shop. When her brother was just an economist who started going on TV as a talk show host, she was in charge of managing his wealth.
It was also Karina who convinced Javier to banish the suits and adopt that look of a veteran rocker with leather jackets like the one he wore this Sunday to vote in the presidential elections. The ultra candidate only got out of the car after El Jefe Karina inspected the cordon of private bodyguards organized to protect him to the fenced corridor through which he has accessed the polling station. "She's the most wonderful being in the world," he said of her in another interview. It remains to be seen what role Karina will play when her brother's term begins on December 10, whether she prefers to continue working behind the scenes, whether she jumps into the public sphere as a powerful first lady or, who knows, whether she will assume an executive position in the next government.