BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — It’s not the most advanced of commencement addresses. Instead, Argentina’s newly elected president, Javier Milei, presented statistics to reveal the extent of the country’s economic “emergency” and tried to prepare the public for a shock adjustment with drastic public spending cuts.
Addressing thousands of supporters in the capital, Buenos Aires, Miley said the country had no time to consider other alternatives.
“We have no margin for sterile discussions. Our country demands action and immediate action,” he said. “The political class has left the country on the brink of the biggest crisis in history. We don’t want the tough decisions to be made in the coming weeks, but they have left us no choice.
South America’s second-largest economy is suffering from 143% annual inflation, the currency has collapsed and four in 10 Argentines live in poverty. The nation has a yawning fiscal deficit, a $43 billion trade deficit and a $45 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, with $10.6 billion owed to multilateral and private creditors by April.
“No money,” is Miley’s common refrain. He reiterated that on Sunday to explain why a gradualist approach is not an option for a situation where funding is needed.
But he assured that the adjustment would affect the government entirely rather than the private sector and would be the first step towards regaining prosperity.
“We know that the situation will deteriorate in the short term, but we will soon see the fruits of our efforts, building a foundation for solid and sustainable growth,” he said.
Miley, a 53-year-old economist, rose to fame on television with a series of defamatory rants against what he called the political caste. He parlayed his popularity into a congressional seat and then quickly ran for president. The self-proclaimed “anarcho-capitalist” landslide victory in the August primary sent shock waves across the political landscape and heightened race.
Argentinians, disillusioned with their economic condition, embraced the foreigner’s exotic ideas to solve their woes and transform the nation. He won decisively in the second round of elections on November 19 – and dispatched the Peronist political force that had dominated Argentina for decades. However, he faces fierce opposition from lawmakers from the Peronist movement and the unions it controls, whose members have said they will refuse to lose wages.
Earlier on Sunday, Millay was sworn in inside the National Congress building, and outgoing President Alberto Fernandez placed the presidential cap on him. Some of the assembled lawmakers chanted “Freedom!”
He then broke with tradition by turning his back to the legislature — not to the assembled legislators — but to his supporters gathered outside. He blamed the outgoing government for setting Argentina on a path toward hyperinflation while the economy stagnated, saying the political class had “ruined our lives.”
“In the last 12 years, GDP per capita has fallen by 15% in an environment where we have accumulated 5,000% inflation. So, we have been living in stagnation for more than a decade. “This is the last difficult project before starting the reconstruction of Argentina,” he said. “It will not be easy; 100 years of failure cannot be done in one day. But it starts with a day, and today is that day.
Given the general bleak nature of Miley’s message, the crowd listened attentively and only occasionally cheered. Many waved Argentine flags and, to a lesser extent, the yellow Gadsden flag often associated with the American libertarian right and adopted by Millay and his supporters.
“Economically, we are like every other Argentine and we are trying to do it by the end of the month,” said Wenceslau Aguirre, one of Miley’s supporters. “It’s a very complicated situation. We hope it will change once and for all.
Once Miley takes office, the nation wonders which version of him will rule: a chainsaw-wielding, anti-establishment crusader. campaign trailOr the most moderate president-elect to emerge in recent weeks.
As a candidate, Miley promised to purge the political establishment of corruption, abolish the central bank, which he accused of printing money and fueling inflation, and replace the rapidly depreciating peso with the U.S. dollar.
But after winning, he tapped former Fed Chairman Luis Caputo His Economic Minister And one of Caputo’s allies headed the bank, apparently putting his more famous plans to add the dollar on hold.
Like former US President Donald Trump, Miley casts herself as a willing warrior against the creeps of global socialism. Appreciate openly. But when Miley traveled to America last week, she didn’t see Mar-a-Lago; Instead, he had lunch with another former US president. Bill Clinton.
He also sent a diplomat with a long history in climate negotiations COP28 conference In Dubai, the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion reported, despite emphatically rejecting humanity’s involvement in global warming. He also backed away from plans to eliminate the country’s health ministry.
And during his inaugural speech, he made some remarks to the political class, saying he had no intention of “hurting anyone or settling old vendettas” and that any politician or union leader who wanted to support his plan would “openly be received”. weapons.”
His moderation may stem from pragmatism, the scope of the biggest challenge before him, his political inexperience and the need to ally with other parties to implement his agenda in Congress, where his party has a one-third seat.
He chose Patricia Bullrich, a longtime politician and the second-highest first-round contender from the Coalition, as his defense minister, and his running mate, Louis Petrie, as his defense minister.
However, there are signs that Millay has not abandoned his radical plans to subvert the government. Already he has said he will scrap several ministries, including culture, environment, women and science and technology. He wants to merge the Ministries of Social Development, Labor and Education under a single Ministry of Human Capital.
Following his inauguration speech, Miley traveled to the presidential palace in a convertible. Later on Sunday, he will administer oath to his ministers and meet foreign dignitaries.
Among them will be prominent far-right figures: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban; Santiago Abascal, president of Spain’s Vox party; Bolsonaro-aligned lawmakers, including Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro and his son.
Miley reportedly sent a letter inviting Brazil’s current president. Luis Inacio Lula da SilvaAfter calling the leftist “obviously” corrupt during a television interview last month, he insisted that if he became president, the two would not meet.
Lula sent his foreign minister to attend Miley’s inauguration.
Also joining was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who made his first visit to Latin America since Kyiv. Court support in developing countries For its 21-month long struggle against the invading forces of Russia. Zelenskyy and Milei shared an intimate exchange shortly before the opening speech and held a bilateral meeting later in the day.