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“There is no alternative to adjustment”: 5 phrases from Javier Milei’s first tough speech as Argentine president

With the presidential sash of the albiceleste recently crossed over the trunk, Javier Milei He gave his first speech as Argentine head of state this Sunday to announce painful adjustments and promise “light at the end of the road”.

The libertarian’s message contrasted with that of his predecessors in the last 40 years of Argentine democracy right down to the symbols: instead of addressing the Legislative Assembly, he spoke to his followers on the steps of Congress.

LOOK: Milei’s hug with Zelensky and other striking images from the Argentine president’s inauguration

It was yet another way in which the 53-year-old economist, elected last month with an anti-system speech, distanced himself from a political class that he usually defines as “caste”, although as the new president he avoided using that term or accusing his predecessors of corruption. .

He also did not announce concrete measures, but in his message lasting almost half an hour Milei warned his opponents that he will be firm in promoting reforms that, in his opinion, will open up a “new social contract” in the country.

Below are five notable phrases from Milei’s first speech as president, which was also witnessed in situ by heads of state and representatives of other countries, although there were notable absences such as that of his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

1. “There is no alternative to adjustment and there is no alternative to shock”

Milei made it clear that he will avoid gradual measures to apply a fiscal adjustment of five points of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the public sector, “which unlike in the past will fall almost entirely on the State and not on the private sector.” “

Milei’s followers gathered in front of the National Congress in Buenos Aires. (REUTERS/MARTIN COSSARINI).

“There is no possible alternative to adjustment, nor is there room for discussion between shock and gradualism”, he stated, arguing that all programs that leaned towards the latter option in the country “ended badly”.

“To carry out gradualism you need to have financing and unfortunately, I have to tell you again, there is no money” he pointed out.

His definition that the adjustment will primarily fall on the State marks a nuance with what he himself said throughout the campaign, when he promised that the changes would be paid for by the political “caste” in particular.

2. “We know that in the short term the situation will get worse, but then we will see the results”

Milei He also unequivocally anticipated that “the difficult decisions” he plans to make in the coming weeks will come at a significant cost, but presented them as inevitable.

In particular, he said that his fiscal adjustment “will have a negative impact on the level of activity, employment, real wages and the number of poor and indigent people”.

The Argentine president, with his sister, Karina Milei, after the inauguration ceremony.  (REUTERS/AGUSTIN MARCARIAN).

The Argentine president, with his sister, Karina Milei, after the inauguration ceremony. (REUTERS/AGUSTIN MARCARIAN).

“There will be stagflation”, he anticipated, referring to a special situation in the economy in which stagnation and inflation occur at the same time.

However, he stated that this “is not something very different from what happened in the last 12 years” in Argentina, where “GDP per capita fell by 15%”.

At another point in his speech he cited a phrase by Julio Argentino Roca, who governed the country between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, in which he spoke of “supreme efforts and painful sacrifices”.

Although he avoided details, the reforms that Milei will promote, whether through an emergency decree or an “omnibus law” with several measures, should include state cuts, economic deregulation, tax changes and privatizations.

“This is the last bad drink to start the reconstruction of Argentina,” he promised. “There will be light at the end of the road.”

3. “No government has received a worse inheritance than the one we are receiving”

The new Argentine president dedicated a large part of his inauguration speech to describing the country’s current situation as grim.

For example, he stated that Kirchnerism, the sector of Peronism led by outgoing vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, left a fiscal and external surplus equivalent to 17% of GDP.

For many Argentines, this Sunday was a day of celebration.  (JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/EPA).

For many Argentines, this Sunday was a day of celebration. (JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/EPA).

Regarding monetary policy, he indicated that he intends to end the issuance of money, but warned that “The costs of the outgoing government’s monetary chaos will remain between 18 and 24 months.

Argentina has more than 40% poverty and inflation of 140% according to official data, but Milei warned that there is a risk that these numbers will skyrocket.

“The outgoing government has left us with hyperinflation and it is our top priority to make every possible effort to avoid such a catastrophe, which would lead to poverty above 90%,” he said.

Elsewhere in his message, he said that “the corny progressive proposal, whose only source of financing is the issuance of money,” would put the country “in a decadent spiral This will equate us with the darkness of the Venezuela of Chávez and Maduro.”

But something surprising is that Milei avoided referring to the dollarization of the Argentine economy and the elimination of the Central Bank, central promises of his electoral campaign.

4. “To those who want to use violence or extortion to obstruct change, we say you will find a president with unwavering convictions.”

Faced with what several analysts anticipate as strong opposition that the new government will have in Congress and on the streets, Milei promised firmness and said that “he will use all the State’s resources to advance the changes”.

“We will not tolerate hypocrisy, dishonesty or the greed for power to interfere in the change that we Argentines have chosen,” he said.

Many of Milei's followers shouted:

Many of Milei’s followers shouted: “Long live freedom!” (REUTERS/AGUSTIN MARCARIAN).

At one point, he alluded in particular to “piqueteros”, protest groups that usually block roads or streets to make demands.

He stated that from now on “those who block the streets violating the rights of their fellow citizens will not receive assistance from society. In other words: whoever cuts doesn’t get paid.

But he also said that would welcome “with open arms” to “all political, union and business leaders who wish to join the new Argentina”.

“As for the Argentine political class, I want to tell them that we did not come to persecute anyone, we did not come to resolve old vendettas or to discuss spaces of power”, he indicated.

He also appeared to allude to the lack of a majority in Congress, where his party La Libertad Avanza It will have just 38 deputies in a chamber of 257 members and eight senators out of a total of 72, which creates uncertainty about how he will be able to approve his reforms.

He recalled that when he entered Congress as a deputy two years ago together with his current vice-president, Victoria Villarruel, he was told that they could do nothing with just two and he responded with a quote from the book Maccabees: “Victory in battle does not depend on the number of soldiers, but from the forces that come from heaven.”

5. “Today a new era begins in Argentina”

Milei sought to portray his coming to power as a turning point for the country, which in his opinion will end “a long history of decadence” and begin an era of “reconstruction”.

“Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a tragic era for the world, these elections marked the turning point in our history,” he said.

This phrase was followed by shouts of “freedom” from his followers gathered in front of Congress.

“This new social contract,” he said at another time, “offers us a different country, a country in which the State does not direct our lives, but rather safeguards our rights. A country where they do it and pay for it.”

Source: Elcomercio

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