Javier Milei Takes Office as President of Argentina

Javier Milei was sworn in as president of Argentina on Sunday. Breaking with tradition, the economist—and self-described anarcho-capitalist—delivered his inaugural address to thousands of his followers gathered outside, his back conspicuously turned away from the legislature. 
“Today begins a new era in Argentina,” he said, promising a new era of liberty and progress. “Today we end a long and sad history of decadence and decline and begin the road to the reconstruction of our country.” 
Milei, 53, is relatively new to politics, beginning his political career in 2019 and winning his first election in 2021. His political campaign took the world by surprise, calling for the deregulation of markets, the elimination of government ministries, and the dollarization of the economy. This platform helped him decisively win the second round of the presidential election on November 19, defeating the ruling Peronist coalition’s candidate. 
“For more than 100 years, politicians have insisted on defending a model that only generates poverty, stagnation, and misery,” Milei said in his speech, promising to break ties with Argentina’s political class, whom he called a “corrupt caste” throughout his campaign. 
In Argentina, four out of 10 citizens live in poverty. Inflation has reached 143 percent and is expected to exceed 200 percent this year—one of the highest rates in the world. The country owes the International Monetary Fund $45 billion. Milei blames Argentina’s “state of emergency” on the policies adopted under Peronist rule.
“The outgoing government has left us with hyperinflation, and it is our top priority to make every effort to avoid a catastrophe that would push poverty above 90 percent and indigence above 50 percent,” he continued.
There is no room left for a gradualist approach to work, Milei suggested. Argentina does not “have margin for sterile discussions. Our country demands action and immediate action.”
Milei acknowledged that this would have negative short-term effects. “There will be stagflation, it is true,” he said, “but it is not very different from what has happened in the last 12 years.” And after the short term is over, he promised, “we will see the fruits of our effort, having created the base for solid and sustainable growth.”
One of his first actions, Milei declared, would be a 5 percent cut in public spending. He did not share any other details in his speech, but he is expected soon to submit a wide-ranging package of reforms to the legislature. His proposals will face an uphill battle, as his party, La Libertad Avanza, has only a small number of seats. 
Milei’s 35-minute speech ended with a call for liberty and a return to embrace the ideas of freedom: “Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a tragic era for the world, these elections have marked the turning point in our history.” Years of failure cannot be undone at once. But change, Milei said, “begins in a day, and today is that day.”