Great Uncertainty in Argentina After Victory of Libertarian Javier Milei
Libertarian extremist Javier Milei of the Freedom Advances party (LLA) came away with a big win in Argentina’s Nov. 19 run-off presidential elections, defeating Sergio Massa of the ruling Union for the Fatherland (UxP) coalition 56%-44%. This was a rout for Massa and represented a resounding condemnation of the government of Alberto Fernandez, who failed to follow through on any of the promises he made to rebuild the economy in 2019, after defeating the ultra-corrupt, pro-IMF President Mauricio Macri.
Instead, the government, in which Sergio Massa is Economy Minister, constantly made disastrous concessions to the IMF. For Massa to win, they would have had to sharply reverse course and immediately launch a physical-economic recovery program in conjunction with China and the BRICS, as proposed by the Schiller Institute.
Neither Massa nor Fernández heeded this policy advice and the country descended into an ever deeper financial crisis, which no amount of fancy footwork could remedy. Massa was dealing with constant financial warfare from the London and Wall Street bankers as well as the IMF, a severe shortage of foreign reserves, uncontrolled inflation, rising interest rates and several devaluations. China came to the rescue with a $20 billion yuan swap from the People’s Bank of China to provide urgently needed reserves, but this couldn’t address the deeper problems with the economy.
The deep anger and frustration felt by the Argentine people, the victims of this economic disaster, are reflected in the fact that Milei won in almost all the nation’s interior provinces, and lost by only one percentage point in the all-important province of Buenos Aires, home to 37% of the nation’s electorate and normally a Peronist stronghold. Unfortunately, Milei’s victory appears to be one for Macri, who took over the libertarian’s campaign after his poor performance in the first round of the elections four weeks ago (cf. SAS 43/23). Macri hopes to install his own neoliberal cronies in Milei’s cabinet, although after his big victory Milei is thinking twice about taking orders from mafia figure Macri.
Many people voted for Milei because they wanted “change” and because Milei was an “outsider,” but his massive win hasn’t dispelled the uncertainty that is rampant in the population. In his first announcements Nov. 19 and 20, he laid out a fascist economic agenda straight from the Austrian school of economics. He has promised to impose drastic austerity, in order to shrink what he called the “omnipresent state”; subsidies for public services will be eliminated; prices will be determined by “the market;” and “anything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be.” There is “no time for gradualism, no time for weakness,” he told his followers Nov. 19.
Milei’s future Foreign Minister, neoliberal economist Diana Mondino, told Sputnik-Brazil Nov. 19 that she sees no reason why Argentina should join the BRICS as of Jan. 1, as is now planned, since membership offers no particular benefit to the country. Milei meanwhile plans to make his first overseas trip to the U.S., followed by Israel.