“There’s no money”: Libertarian Javier Milei assumes presidency of Argentina

By December 10, 2023

Buenos Aires, Argentina — Libertarian firebrand Javier Milei assumed as new president of Argentina on December 10 after winning the election runoff a month ago.

During the traditional assumption event in Congress, Milei gave a speech warning about the poor financial state he receives and forecasting huge cuts on public spending and heavy inflation during the first months of his administration. 

Thousands gathered between the Casa Rosada and the Plaza de los Dos Congresos in the Buenos Aires downtown to see the newly elected president formally assume his mandate. After he swore in parliament, Milei gave a speech facing his supporters in the Congress’s esplanade, breaking the tradition of giving it inside the legislative assembly. 

“No government has received a worse inheritance than what we are receiving,” said Mr. Milei about the financial state of the country. “We know that in the short term the situation is going to get worse. I have to tell you again: there’s no money.”

Meanwhile, some of his supporters sang effusively, “There’s no mo-ney, there’s no mo-ney” in the Congress Plaza. 

“We are going to cut [public spending] by 5 points of the GDP, which will fall on the State and not on the private sector,” announced Mr. Milei during his speech. “The outgoing government left us in the brink of a hyperinflation and it is our highest priority to make all possible efforts to avoid such a catastrophe that would bring poverty to 90% and indigence to 50%.”

Mr. Milei assumes office in a heavily fragile context with around 46% of Argentines below the poverty line and a State Treasury with negative numbers.

During former president Alberto Fernández’s administration, who assumed office in December 2019, the accumulated inflation was around 800%. The Central Bank doesn’t have financial room to breathe due to big public spending and a huge public debt, and many prices like public transport and services are behind that mark. 

Behind Milei during his speech, some international political figures were present. Presidents like Ukranian Volodimir Zelenski, Chilean Gabriel Boric, Uruguayan Lacalle Pou, Paraguayan Santiago Peña, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Spanish King Felipe VI. From Brazil, one of Argentina’s main commercial partners, former president Jair Bolsonaro was the only one present, as Lula da Silva rejected the invite. 

After the speech, Milei went from Congress to the Casa Rosada waving at his supporters in a car alongside his sister, Karina, a key member of his political platform. Later he talked in the famous balcony of the Rosada in front of thousands in Plaza de Mayo.

Milei’s newly sworn cabinet. Image courtesy of Twitter.

There, the members of his cabinet swore in a closed-to-the-public ceremony, with no official audiovisual transmission, which had never happened before as the press was always authorized to be there, specially photojournalists. 

The first economic measures of the Milei-Villarruel administration are expected to be announced on Monday 11.