Last Sunday, Nov. 19, the presidential runoff election in Argentina was won by libertarian economist Javier Milei and his running mate, lawyer Victoria Villarruel. They will take office Dec. 10 as president and vice president of the nation.

The vice president-elect of the La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances) political coalition and currently a congresswoman in the national Legislature has a long history as a political activist and writer, but she is also known for expressing her Catholic faith in public and for criticizing policies contrary to her principles, such as abortion. 

Here are some key facts about the Argentine leader:

1. She’s a practicing Catholic.

Villarruel, 48, is from Buenos Aires and was born April 13, 1975. Although she does not usually comment on her personal life, she does openly share her faith. She is a self-professed practicing Catholic.

For example, in April the lawmaker wished her followers a happy Easter with a message on Instagram, and a few months later she commemorated the feast day of the Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of Argentina, with a post on X. In 2019 she also posted a photograph from her pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, commenting that the 65-kilometer (40-mile) trek was “really an enormous effort but walking with others, united in the faith, seeing the humble homes, towns, and pilgrims puts everything in perspective.”

In a Nov. 21 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Argentine priest Javier Olivera Ravasi, director of the Catholic apologetics project “Que no te la cuenten” (“Don’t believe everything you hear”), shared that he met Villarruel in his chapel a year and a half ago.

“She was godmother at a baptism. She has a very strong, determined personality; she comes from a military family. Her father was a classmate of mine in military school when they were young. She is Catholic, Roman apostolic, practicing,” the priest said.

The Argentine media Letra P stated that Villarruel participates in the Traditional Latin Mass that is celebrated in the chapel of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (FSSPX) located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Monserrat, a few blocks from Congress.

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According to Olivera, she attends the SSPX chapel because it’s the only place in that area where the Latin Mass is held, since in the area near her residence there are no traditional Masses. The vice president-elect is not part of the SSPX and she also attends Novus Ordo Masses elsewhere in the city, the priest explained.

2. She’s against abortion.

In a recent interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, Villarruel said she advocates for “the right to life, because life begins at conception,” and pointed out that protecting the lives of the unborn is not a “matter of religion” but of “pure biology.”

During the campaign, the vice president-elect expressed her support for the repeal of the abortion law passed in 2020, known as the Law of Access to Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy.

In a Nov. 14 interview with the TN television channel, the congresswoman confirmed that, together with Milei, she wants to reopen the discussion on the abortion law, focusing the debate on “a scientific basis and serious arguments” and not on ideological positions.

However, she later explained that this issue is not a priority considering the exorbitant prices Argentinians are facing due to the country’s very high rate of inflation and that the abortion law will be addressed at another time.

In another interview with Infobae on May 16, she described the law as “disastrous” and assured that if she could, she would repeal it. “There was a lobby here that was also promoted from abroad; abortion is big business and there is a lobby that promoted this issue,” she said.

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On July 8, 2018, Villarruel participated in a Mass for Life at the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján when the country was debating the legalization of abortion in Congress.

Olivera noted that repealing the abortion law will be “difficult because it has to go through Congress and their coalition [Freedom Advances] doesn’t have a majority now. But at least they will surely try to start little by little to work towards achieving this goal.”

3. She opposed same-sex “marriage” during the campaign.

During an interview in early May, Villarruel said she was against the “Marriage Equality Law,” the legislation on the so-called “marriage” between people of the same sex passed in Argentina in 2010.

When the host of television channel LN+ (The Nation+), Luis Novaresio, asked her what she thought about gay “marriage,” she said: “For me, it was guaranteed with civil unions. Legally, those rights were guaranteed. Was it necessary to expand them? Yes, but calling it ‘marriage,’ which is an institution that has more to do with religion… For me, we all have rights before the law."

In response to the congresswoman’s statements, the host pointed out that marriage is not related to religion but is “a matter of civil law.” After this, Villarruel responded: “Yes, of course. But its origin dates back to the previous establishment of the institution of marriage, which had a religious character.”

Martín Zeballos, a lawyer and former Freedom Advances candidate for “comunero” (similar to an alderman) in Comuna 1 (similar to a ward) of the City of Buenos Aires, told ACI Prensa Nov. 21 that Villarruel contributed “a very solid discourse” that resonated with “a huge number of Argentines who love their country and want to put the Argentine family at the center of public policies.”

The family “is something that Argentine public policies have forgotten in recent decades and I think it’s important that this new government can bring it back,” he said.

4. She is the daughter of a soldier and fights for the victims of terrorism.

Villarruel is the daughter of Eduardo Villarruel, a veteran of the Falklands (Malvinas Islands) War with Britain. He was also assigned in northern Argentina to the counterterrorism Operation Independence. The operation began during the period of democratic rule and continued during the dictatorship to confront guerrillas from the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), a guerrilla organization in Argentina that was active in the 1970s.

“Victoria Villarruel will be the first vice president of Argentina who is the daughter of a veteran of the Falklands War, an unwavering cause for our country. So much so that it is specifically mentioned in the national constitution,” Zeballos said.

Since 2006, Villarruel has been president of the Center for Legal Studies Civil Association on Terrorism and Its Victims, an organization that took on the task of raising awareness of the victims of crimes attributed to armed organizations during the 1970s in Argentina.

In a May interview with Infobae, the Buenos Aires politician said that “what happened in the ’70s hurt all Argentines,” and that only a few have had the “right” to tell what they experienced. “I have always been interested in justice, truth, and reparation for these victims,” she stressed.

In 2014, she co-authored the book “Los otros muertos” (“The Other Dead,” which tells the stories of victims of terrorism in Argentina.

On Sept. 25 of this year, Villarruel shared on Instagram her attendance at the Mass in memory of the former leader of the General Confederation of Labor of Argentina, José Ignacio Rucci, who was murdered 50 years ago by the Montoneros, another leftist guerrilla group in Argentina. The Mass was held in the Buenos Aires cathedral.

Likewise, in June, the vice president-elect shared on Instagram that she attended a Mass commemorating the birth of Argentino del Valle Larrabure, a Servant of God who was a victim of kidnapping, torture, and murder at the hands of the ERP during the 1970s.

Walter Sánchez Silva contributed to this story.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.