On the fence hammers clanking on the steps of the surrounded congress building. A stage is being built there, from which the new president of Argentina Javier Milei plans to address the nation during his inauguration on Sunday.
A large crowd is expected in the square. Security measures are particularly strict, and a large part of the center is closed to traffic. According to Argentine media, the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi has confirmed his attendance at the inauguration. The information has also been confirmed by the Embassy of Ukraine in Buenos Aires. After the election victory, Zelenskyi called Milei to congratulate him and praised the new president’s “clear support” for Ukraine.
Zelenskyi would like a closer alliance with Milei. Milei has already offered to host a summit between Ukraine and Latin American countries in Argentina.
Milei has said he will make significant changes to Argentina’s foreign policy, including cooling ties with Russia. He wants closer relations, especially with the United States and Israel. The intention is to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, like the United States. Milei also plans to convert to Judaism.
From Argentina’s neighboring country, the president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stays out of the inauguration, because things are cool with Milei. During his election campaign, Milei called Lula an “angry communist” and hinted that Argentina would no longer trade with its most important trading partner, Brazil. Lula will be replaced by Brazil’s foreign minister Mauro Vieiraas well as the former president, a far-right Jair Bolsonaro his son Eduardo’s with. The Bolsonaros have visibly supported Milei.
The text written on the street reads Milei mentiroso, or Milei the Liar.
Antonia Gutierrez takes a picture of the congress building with his cell phone. He is visiting from Mar del Plata and will not stay to watch the change of power, even though he voted for Milei as president. According to Gutierrez, change in Argentina is necessary and with Milei, the future of the younger generations looks better.
“The Kirchnerists have ruled and exploited Argentina for so long,” he says, referring to the previous regime’s corruption, economic problems and increasing poverty.
Gutierrez is retired, but he’s not worried about potential pension cuts. He also does not believe that Milei would want to take away the right to abortion. According to Gutierrez, Milei’s idea to reduce ministries is a good one, for example the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity hasn’t gotten him to do anything.
Antonia Gutierrez in front of the Congress building in Buenos Aires on Friday.
Milei, a self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist, carried a chainsaw during his campaign to illustrate how radically he intends to cut government spending. He threatened to close the central bank and planned to replace the Argentine peso with the US dollar. The Pope came under direct criticism Francisand he spoke out for looser gun laws and against abortion rights.
His election victory since Milei has become more moderate.
Instead of tearing it down, he should now build Argentina’s future and fix the miserable economic situation. According to the latest measurements, poverty has already increased to 44.7 percent. JPMorgan expects annual inflation in Argentina to reach 210 percent by the end of this year and warns that it is likely to accelerate further early next year. Argentina owes the International Monetary Fund to the IMF 43 billion dollars due to the debt arrangements.
Milei needs allies if she wants to get things through in Congress, where the La Libertad Avanza coalition she represents has a minority. Closing the central bank and dollarization would require constitutional reform, which in turn would require approval by two-thirds of the entire Congress.
Milei has already allied with the conservatives. The new security minister was a counter-candidate in the first round of the presidential election Patricia Bullrich.
Miles has often been compared to Jair Bolsonaro and to Donald Trump. In Argentina, Milei represents fascism to his opponents. The fear has been created by the fact that Milei and the vice president Victoria Villarruel have questioned the number of victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship.
Federico Finchelstein sees similarities in Mile to Bolsonaro and Trump, even though he is not a nationalist in the same way. Finchelstein is a historian and professor who has written books on fascism and populism. According to him, Milei’s demagogic activities have fascist echoes, Milei has tried to normalize Argentina’s military dictatorship, which had fascist features.
“For a long time in Argentina, it was toxic to normalize and legitimize killings and human rights violations. Now Milei has opened the door to things that have not been approved,” says Finchelstein by phone.
Milei was particularly popular among young people in the elections. As many as 69 percent of 16-24 year olds voted for him. In Argentina, it is possible to vote already at the age of 16, it is only compulsory at the age of 18. The young generation of voters has no experience of the economic disaster in Argentina in 2001 or the time of the military dictatorship.
This is exactly what the 38-year-old who came to the congress square to read is worried about Maria Elisa Lovato. He voted Sergio Massa, because he wanted to oppose Miles. Lovato says that if Milei seeks to ban, for example, the right to abortion, which was only approved by the Senate at the end of 2020, it will face widespread protests.
Maria Elisa Lovato estimates that the Argentinians will possibly rise up in resistance.
“There are a million women protesting in this square,” she says, pointing to the congress square around her.
“Everyone is ready to fight as soon as Monday.”