In his first speech as president, Argentina’s new far-right leader has promised to impose “shock treatment” on the economy.“There is no money” is the warning that Javier Milei gave the Argentine people, and he reiterated his commitment to a programme of strict austerity measures.
With bold promises to revive the failing economy of the South American country, the populist outsider unexpectedly won the November election.
On Sunday, Mr. Milei was sworn in in Buenos Aires.
The 53-year-old concluded his incredible ascent to power on a pompous day with a speech that made it clear to the people of Argentina that he intends to take the country on a different economic course than any other president.
With significant spending cuts, he promised to reverse “decades of decadence” and reduce the nation’s massive public debt and inflation, which is currently over 140%.
The simple truth is that shock treatment and austerity have no substitutes,” Mr. Milei stated.
“We are aware that things will get worse quickly. However, then we will witness the results of our labours.”
In a procession to the presidential palace, Mr. Milei waved to supporters with his sister Karina, a confidante who is anticipated to have a significant influence behind the scenes in his new administration.
From the balcony, he spoke to the crowd and shouted campaign slogans. He also received the presidential sash and baton, which he had personalised with engravings of his five dogs.
With a right-wing platform that includes limiting abortion rights, liberalising gun laws, and denying climate change, Mr. Milei has risen quickly from relative obscurity to the highest office in Argentina.
Throughout the campaign trail, he was often seen brandishing a chainsaw, and his fearless remarks have drawn comparisons to those of former US President Donald Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
He declared during the campaign that he would eliminate the central bank and several other government agencies, as well as replace Argentina’s peso with the US dollar.
Although Mr. Milei will have broad powers as president, he will still have to work within political constraints to address a number of difficult issues.
Argentina’s troubled currency, the peso, is in a long-term freefall, the country’s poverty rate has skyrocketed to 40%, and the economy is in a severe recession, per IMF data.
In Argentina’s Congress, where his coalition of small right-wing and libertarian parties is barely represented in the minority, Mr. Milei is expected to encounter resistance.
It is unclear how the newly elected president will actually handle the position, though some observers have noticed a more measured tone since his win was officially announced.
But shortly after taking office, the newly elected president made good on a major campaign promise by signing an executive order cutting the number of departments from 18 to nine.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky attended the swearing-in ceremony. He has been meeting with leaders in Latin America to try and get support for his country’s war effort on a global scale.
After the photo of the two embraced, Mr. Zelensky told reporters that they had talked about how Argentina could help Ukraine.