President-elect Milei vows ‘end of Argentina’s decline’
The Manila Times
Americas And Emea
Libertarian outsider Javier Milei swept to victory in Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, vowing to halt decades of economic decline in a South American country reeling from triple-digit inflation. The self-described “anarcho-capitalist” pulled off a massive upset by ousting the populist Peronist coalition that has long dominated Argentine politics. With 55.7 percent of the vote, Milei thumped his rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who scored 44 percent of the vote and quickly conceded defeat. “Today begins the reconstruction of Argentina. Today begins the end of Argentina’s decline,” Milei said in his victory speech. “The model of decadence has come to an end. There is no way back.” Latin America’s third-biggest economy has suffered decades of crises under interventionist governments big on welfare that resort to money printing to finance spending, fueling inflation, while borrowing heavily only to default on their debt. Access to dollars is strictly controlled, leading to a thriving black market for greenbacks, and analysts warn that the Argentine peso is ripe for a sharp devaluation. “There is no room for gradualism ... or halfmeasures,” warned Milei. The new leader’s main platform has been a plan to ditch the ailing peso for the United States dollar and “dynamite” the country’s central bank to do away with the “cancer of inflation.” However, analysts warn that the country is too low on dollar reserves for the move to happen anytime soon. Milei, a 53-year-old economist with wild hair and thick sideburns, has drawn comparisons with former US president Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro for his abrasive style and controversial remarks. Both former presidents congratulated him on social media. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington “[looks] forward to working with Presidentelect Milei and his government on shared priorities.” Milei is against abortion, vowed to cut ties with key trading partners China and Brazil, insulted fellow Argentine Pope Francis, questioned the death toll under Argentina’s brutal dictatorship, and says humans are not behind climate change. Earlier in his campaign, he took to the stage wielding a powered-up chainsaw to symbolize the drastic cuts he plans to make to a bloated state. Milei’s red-faced rants against the “thieving and corrupt political class” struck a nerve with Argentines struggling to make ends meet and fed up with politicians they see as the architects of their misery. He carried out much of his campaign on TikTok and other social media, firing up young people. Others were spooked by his style in an election that has polarized the nation.