Receive daily emails with the most recent news updates from our journalists nationwide, directly to your email inbox.
Here is an update on the most recent news from all over the United States.
The inaugural speech delivered by newly elected president Javier Milei of Argentina was not very uplifting. Instead, he shared statistics to reveal the severity of the country’s economic crisis and warned the public about the need for significant cuts in public spending as part of a drastic adjustment.
“We are faced with a lack of options and time. There is no room for pointless debates. Our nation requires swift and decisive action. The political leaders have left us on the verge of the worst crisis in our history,” stated the speaker in his speech to a large crowd of supporters in Buenos Aires. “We may not want to make difficult decisions in the upcoming weeks, but unfortunately, they have left us with no other choice.”
South America’s second largest economy is suffering 143 per cent annual inflation, the currency has plunged and four in 10 Argentines are impoverished. The nation has a yawning fiscal deficit, a trade deficit of $43bn, plus a daunting $45bn debt to the International Monetary Fund, with $10.6bn due to the multilateral and private creditors by April. “There’s no money,” is Mr Milei’s common refrain. He repeated it Sunday to explain why a gradualist approach to the situation, which would require financing, was not an option.
However, he assured that the modification would primarily impact the state rather than the private sector. He also stated that it marked the initial move towards recovering economic success.
He stated that although the situation will initially deteriorate, our efforts will soon bear fruit as we have established a foundation for strong and lasting growth.
Mr Milei, 53, rose to fame on television with profanity-laden tirades against what he called the political caste. He parlayed his popularity into a congressional seat and then, just as swiftly, into a presidential run. The overwhelming victory of the self-declared “anarcho-capitalist” in the August primaries sent shock waves through the political landscape and upended the race.
Argentinians who were disappointed with the current state of the economy were open to considering unconventional solutions from an outsider to address their problems and bring about change in the country. In the second round of the election on November 19th, he won by a large margin, defeating the Peronist political party that had held power in Argentina for many years. However, he can expect strong resistance from Peronist lawmakers and unions, whose members have expressed their unwillingness to suffer wage cuts.
On Sunday, Mr. Milei took his oath in the National Congress building and outgoing President Alberto Fernández placed the presidential sash on him. A few of the gathered legislators cheered for “Liberty!”
Later, he went against tradition by giving his first speech not to the gathered politicians, but to his supporters who had gathered outside – with his back facing the legislature. He criticized the previous government for leading Argentina towards hyperinflation while the economy remained stagnant, stating that the political elite “has destroyed our livelihoods.”
“Over the past 12 years, there has been a 15% decrease in GDP per capita due to a staggering inflation rate of 5,000%. This has led to a prolonged period of stagflation for more than a decade. However, this is the final obstacle before embarking on the process of rebuilding Argentina,” he stated. “It will not be a simple task, as it takes more than a day to reverse 100 years of failure. But today marks the beginning of this journey.”
The audience paid close attention and showed sporadic enthusiasm despite the overall pessimistic tone of Mr. Milei’s speech. Several people waved Argentine flags and some also displayed the yellow Gadsden flag, a symbol often linked to the American libertarian movement and embraced by Mr. Milei and his followers.
Wenceslao Aguirre, a supporter of Mr Milei, stated that economically, they are facing the same struggles as every other Argentinean, trying to make it through the month. He acknowledged the difficult situation they are currently in and expressed hope for a change in the future.
As Mr. Milei begins his term, the country ponders which version of him will lead: the rebellious, chainsaw-wielding candidate from the campaign trail, or the more moderate president-elect who has surfaced in recent weeks.
As a contender, Mr. Milei promised to rid the government system of dishonesty, get rid of the Central Bank which he believes is responsible for printing money and causing inflation, and substitute the rapidly declining peso with the American dollar.
However, following his victory, he selected Luis Caputo, a former president of the Central Bank, to serve as his economy minister. He also chose one of Caputo’s associates to lead the bank, indicating a delay in his previously emphasized goal of dollarization.
Mr. Milei positioned himself as a willing fighter against the spread of global socialism, similar to former U.S. President Donald Trump, whom he openly admires. However, during his trip to the United States last week, he did not visit Mar-a-Lago. Instead, he had lunch with another former U.S. leader, Bill Clinton.
According to Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the leader sent a seasoned diplomat to the current COP28 conference in Dubai, despite previously denying the role of humans in climate change. In addition, the leader changed his mind about eliminating the country’s health ministry.
During his first speech as the leader, he specifically addressed the political group. He stated that he has no plans to harm anyone or seek revenge from past conflicts. He also mentioned that any politician or union leader who is in favor of his plans will be welcomed with open arms.
He may moderate his actions due to practicality, considering the enormity of the task ahead, his lack of political experience, and the need to form alliances with other parties in order to pass his agenda in Congress, where his party holds a significantly lower number of seats.
He selected Patricia Bullrich, a seasoned politician and primary opponent from the coalition with the second highest number of seats, to serve as his security minister. Additionally, her running mate, Luis Petri, was chosen as his defense minister.
However, there are indications that Mr Milei has not abandoned his extreme proposals to dismantle the government. He has already stated that he intends to abolish several ministries, such as those focused on culture, environment, women, and science and technology. Additionally, he aims to merge the ministries of social development, labor, and education into one ministry of human capital.
After delivering his first speech as president, Mr Milei rode in a convertible to the presidential palace. On Sunday, he has plans to officially appoint his ministers and hold meetings with representatives from other countries.
Notable individuals from the far-right will be included, such as Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, Vox party leader Santiago Abascal from Spain, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Bolsonaro’s supported lawmakers, including his son.
According to reports, Mr. Milei sent a letter to invite Brazil’s current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, after referring to him as “obviously” corrupt during a televised interview last month. He also stated that if he were to become president, he would not meet with Lula da Silva.
Lula sent his foreign minister to participate in Mr Milei’s swearing-in ceremony.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also attended the event, marking his initial trip to Latin America. This visit is part of Kyiv’s efforts to garner support from developing countries in their ongoing 21-month battle against Russia’s invading forces. Before the inaugural speech, Mr. Zelenskyy and Mr. Milei engaged in a friendly conversation.