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ARGENTINA | 24-04-2024 17:44

Milei on education march: ‘Using a noble cause to defend caste interests’

Milei used social media to unload on critics and dismisses universities march, accusing "the caste" of using a “noble cause” like education to “defend their caste interests.”

President Javier Milei unleashed his ire on his political opponents on Wednesday as he reacted to massive demonstrations against cutbacks to the budgets of state universities.

Milei, 53, used his social media accounts to unload once more against the “caste,” accusing them of using a “noble cause” like education to “defend their caste interests.”

“Yesterday we saw once again how those who seek to continue living at the expense of Argentines used a lie to promote their interests,” he posted in a statement on his Xaccount.

“Beyond any discussion as to what model of higher education is desirable for a country where six out of every 10 kids aged under 14 are poor, the eternal wise guys have used the shield of a cause which sounds noble to defend their caste interests,” he continued.

In that sense he explained: "At no point has the national government insinuated the intention to close down the national universities."

Hundreds of thousands of thousands of Argentines took to the streets on Tuesday to voice their anger at Milei’s budget-slashing plans for higher educational institutions. Gathering in “defence of free public university education,” demonstrations took place in Buenos Aires and several other cities nationwide.

In his daily press conference, Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni recognised that the march was "genuine" despite highlighting the "members of the regular caste" of rallies in allusion to the political and trade union leaders present.

"We respect all those who wanted to demonstrate and congratulate them on being able to do so in peace and without violence or public disorder despite the regular cast of marches. We’re happy that it all worked out like that," said the spokesman when consulted by Noticias Argentinas news agency.

At his Casa Rosada press conference, the official affirmed that "much still lies ahead" regarding reform plans, indicating that the meeting with university chancellors "has still not been confirmed" but pointing out that it will "probably arise."

"The channels of dialogue are open," highlighted Adorni. "The public universities will not close. That is not on our agenda. We are the greatest guardians of public universities, defending them like nobody."

Along the same lines, Adorni presented university education as part of the government’s libertarian vision, reiterating the need to advance with audits to make academic accounts more transparent. 

“Part of the defence of the public university has to come from those audits. We both want the same thing,” he remarked.

“We disagree with those who have tried to convince an enormous group of students who want a quality public education with audits and without the vices of the old politics that we are going to close down the universities. That is not true,” he insisted.

Along the same lines, he remarked: “While we’re in government, the public universities will not close down nor lower their standards nor have to switch off their lights because they cannot pay for them. That will never happen.” 

Consulted about the possibility of charging foreign students fees, Adorni replied: "That is a discussion which the universities will need to start."

Lastly, he accused opposition leaders – whom he had described as “the ghost train” on Tuesday – of deliberately installing the idea that the libertarian administration sought to close down the universities.

“Let us stop debating the closure of universities because that is a very evil question reflecting on those who ask it,” he concluded.

Vice-President Victoria Villarruel posted her own remarks on her social networks to criticise the march.

In an exasperated, mordant and ferociously critical tone, the Senate head described ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former Economy minister Sergio Massa and the human rights leaders Tati Almeyda and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel – all of whom supported the rally – as "political corpses."

"Yesterday when I saw the mass march, I thought that it is fine to fight for the university but one of quality and liberty and for everybody, where you can think without being blacklisted for what you think and where you can study without having to see posters of the infamous ‘Che’ Guevara, [Karl] Marx or the ladies with white headscarves who enriched their pockets through a tragedy," Villarruel blasted out, including the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group in her critique.

"I want a Public University which is the pride of students, not a racket of the left, I want a UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires) where you can talk and think as you like without the impositions of the thought police."

Javier Milei’s running-mate prefaced her social network outburst by commenting that she had studied at UBA and the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional.

“I am the daughter of a public university recognised worldwide which educated three Argentine Nobel Prizes in science and which is a synonym of progress and upward social mobility," highlighted the founder of CELTYV (Centro de Estudios Legales sobre el Terrorismo y sus Víctimas).

 

– TIMES/NA

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