Argentina Braces for Economic Overhaul as Javier Milei Sworn In as President
By: ATN News
In a historic turn of events, Argentina witnessed the inauguration of its new president, Javier Milei, on Sunday. The 53-year-old libertarian economist, known for his unorthodox campaign methods and fervent speeches, addressed a throng of supporters from the steps of Congress, breaking tradition and forewarning the nation of imminent austerity measures.
Milei minced no words as he declared, "There is no money," attributing the fiscal crisis to the overspending of his predecessors. The former TV pundit, who gained notoriety for his explicit critiques against rivals, China, and the Pope, characterized his inheritance as "the worst" of any prior government. Promising to end "decades of decadence," Milei emphasized the inevitability of austerity and shock treatment, acknowledging the short-term challenges but expressing confidence in the eventual fruition of their efforts.
Amid a backdrop of economic turmoil marked by triple-digit inflation and widespread poverty affecting 40% of the population, Milei outlined key steps for recovery. The president-elect pledged a fiscal adjustment equivalent to 5% of the country's GDP, focusing on cuts to the state rather than the private sector.
Following his address, Milei, accompanied by his sister Karina, embarked on a symbolic journey from Congress to the Casa Rosada presidential palace, partly on foot and partly in a convertible, greeted by enthusiastic supporters.
The new president's immediate plans include the reduction of the current 18-member cabinet to a streamlined nine ministers, with proposed measures to be presented to Congress in the coming days.
In a diplomatic exchange, Milei briefly engaged with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, underscoring international interest in the event. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Brazil's ex-president Jair Bolsonaro also made appearances, reflecting a global shift towards right-wing ideologies.
Milei's rise to power, marked by populist rhetoric and promises of radical change, draws parallels to leaders like Bolsonaro and former US president Donald Trump. However, the president's pragmatic shift and collaboration with previously criticized politicians have raised questions about the feasibility of his initial proposals, such as dismantling the central bank and adopting the US dollar.
As Argentines navigate a future fraught with economic uncertainty, the central question revolves around Milei's strategy for stabilizing the peso, addressing currency controls, and curbing inflation. Economists and analysts are closely monitoring the president's actions, with Victor Beker of the University of Belgrano highlighting the cessation of money printing by the Central Bank as a crucial litmus test.
Milei, acknowledging the protracted timeline for economic recovery, warned of potential "stagflation" in the coming months, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting a 2.5% contraction in Argentina's GDP for 2023. Despite the challenges ahead, supporters see Milei's presidency as a potential turning point, free from burdensome taxes, inflation, and the constraints of a beleaguered currency system.