Argentina: Who likes Milei the most


Ricardo Pristupluk / AP

The new Argentine President Javier Milei spent a little over a month after his inauguration at his friend’s place in the Libertador Hotel in Buenos Aires, waiting for the completion of the renovation of the Presidential Villa Olivos (Quinta Presidencial de Olivos) in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires, the official residence of the Argentine President.

And there was a reason for that. The «doghouses» — apartments for four mastiffs cloned in a New York State lab from a deceased beloved dog, named Conan — were under urgent preparation. A few months ago, El Loco («The Madman» is how the Argentines refer to Milei) said that «God announced to him through his dead dog that he would become president».

Early in the morning on the day he moved into the residence, the Argentine president posted a photo on his X account of the new super doghouses for pups Milton, Murray, Robert and Lucas, saying that at the very least they would be «air-conditioned so the dogs don’t sweat».

«Long live freedom, dammit! — exclaimed Milei. — My little kids are coming to live with me in Quinta de Olivos». Milei has no other children, as far as is known, and it is not known whether he will have any, considering his love of dogs. They have now taken a place worthy of a dog’s life in Argentina’s presidential residence.

«Madman’s» love of dogs is directly proportional to his hatred of Argentines. In the month and a half of his rule, Argentina’s inflation has reached a world record of 211.4%, and Focus Economics predicts inflation will peak at 260% in the second quarter of 2024.

«Freed» dollar is now worth more than 1,200 pesos on black markets, compared with about 820 pesos at the official exchange rate. More valuable banknotes, such as $50 and $100 bills, are more expensive than $10 or $20 and cheaper than $100 bills, paying more for crisp «papers» than crumpled ones.

The government of Milei has lifted price controls on hundreds of essential goods, followed instantly by a 45% increase in the price of health care and transportation. In just the first two weeks of his administration, oil prices rose by 85%, prepaid transactions by 70%, and food by an average of 30%. Utility tariffs — for gas, light and water — are still pending. The libertarian government is expected to begin raising electricity and gas prices in the coming weeks — just as Argentines return from summer vacation and the school year begins.

The prices of staple foods such as rice and noodles, usually available to the poor (who, incidentally, are 40% of the country’s population), have risen by more than 100%. And the annual increase in meat prices in this traditionally meat-eating country has reached a staggering 307.3%. And no one seems to understand it anymore — a phenomenon that economists call «unreasonable expectations».

Apparently, only the International Monetary Fund and a mix of extreme right-wingers and liberals love Milei, who, for refusing to join BRICS, for refusing to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as well as for the decision to limit contacts with the «communist» leftist regimes of South America (with Colombia, partly with Brazil) and, most importantly, for the willingness to donate two Mi-171E military transport helicopters in favor of Ukraine, the IMF gave a vote of confidence by approving the renegotiation of Argentina’s $44 billion debt.

The interesting thing is whether and how China, Argentina’s second-largest trading partner and the largest importer of Argentine agricultural products, will be affected.

«Javier Milei has officially initiated the dissolution of the Argentine state», wrote the newspaper Pagina 12. In his 15-minute speech on the occasion of Christmas, President Milei announced 300 (!!!!) reforms, of which he listed only 30.

The new legislation includes reducing regulations, weakening labor unions, raising export taxes, and eliminating environmental protections. Among them is the repeal of laws that required companies to guarantee domestic food supplies and supermarkets to limit markups on certain essential goods. It was also announced that an industrial development program in disadvantaged areas would be closed and restrictions on the privatization of state-owned enterprises would be lifted.

Since that ill-fated day, soccer clubs have become joint-stock companies that can be managed by foreign agents. Thus, the president has humiliated Argentine national soccer pride. And foreigners, primarily of North American origin, will also have no restrictions on the purchase of national lands and businesses. The decree declares the so far protected Argentine market open to speculators from around the world, removing many obstacles to imports and exports.

After cutting spending, laying off civil servants and devaluing the currency, Milei, seizing the opportunity to pass some of his decrees bypassing Congress, focused on radical legislation that would have consequences for the economy, elections, labor relations, public safety, the environment, the arts, science, health care and the right of Argentines to family life. In the latter, the daddy of dogs knows a thing or two.

And, of course, Milei demanded emergency powers for at least one year, during which time he would transform Argentina, to implement his economic plans.

Somehow the Supreme Court didn’t really believe the new president’s good promises. It suspended the labor changes and sent a proposed bill to Congress, where Milei has minimal support (40 of 257 seats in the lower house and seven of 72 in the Senate).

Javier Milei’s Mega-project was not understood by thousands of Argentines too. Usually quiet, except on soccer match days, thousands of residents of Buenos Aires and other cities took to the streets the day the anti-demonstration law was enacted.

They defied the still unformed government and chanted to Milei, «Che, boludo (bastard), shove your decree up your ass!» The police, traditionally trained since the days of military regimes, this time remained «indifferent» to the protests.

It was the first call for the new government to wake up. But Milei did not stop there. Then Argentina’s largest labor unions called a general strike on January 24. On that day, the entire country went on strike, including workers in transport, construction, health care, food service, energy and banking. Banks and many stores were closed, doctors postponed surgeries, and garbage pickup stopped, while thousands of people filled the streets. State airline Aerolineas Argentinas canceled 267 flights, disrupting the travel plans of more than 17,000 passengers. Public transportation workers went on strike at 7 p.m. in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas, however, worked as usual during the day to ease protesters’ access to the area in front of Congress.

Protesters «can demonstrate as much as they want. And take to the plazas and the streets», said Patricia Bullrich, who lost the presidency but won the security minister’s seat from Milei. — «And police can, under the new protocol, disperse people blocking the streets, and without trial, identify through video or digital means protesters and block passageways».

The authorities change, but the police and official propaganda remain to serve whichever regime comes to power. Perhaps that is why, despite the economic chaos, the drastic impoverishment of the population, and Milei’s boorish attitude, his inflated approval rating remains high, and even rose by two percent from the November elections.

Argentines believe that if he will fix anything, it will not be in the interest of the Argentine state and people. The newspaper Pagina 12 predicts that in the near future one should expect a «new state» — Argentina within the United States of America.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Milei on his victory and said that the libertarian would «make Argentina great again».

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, meanwhile, predicted it was a «sad day» for the region.

Milei, in a short period of time, has managed to pass through the most sacred things for Argentina and Argentines with a chainsaw.

Who would stop him? Only the Argentines.