Saturday, June 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 26-05-2024 10:16

Milei proclaims ‘change of era’ in Córdoba speech marking national holiday

President Milei heads to Córdoba to mark his first 25 de Mayo anniversary as head of state; Head of state praises ‘rock star’ Luis Caputo in speech following event in Buenos Aires, announces new ‘May Council’ and vows tax cuts.

President Javier Milei proclaimed a “change of era” in Argentina on Saturday as he defended his government in a speech from Córdoba marking the 25 de Mayo national holiday.

Delivering a 40-minute address to citizens from the Cabildo de Córdoba in the provincial capital, Argentina’s libertarian leader claimed his government is “rising in popularity” as it battles to tackle inflation and restore economic prosperity. 

In an aside that prompted the unusual sight of an Argentine economy minister being applauded by a crowd, Milei showered praise on his finance chief Luis Caputo, describing him as a “rock star” and thanking the official’s daughter for letting him serve as minister.

"We are rising in popularity and my minister has become a rock star," said Milei, 

"You do realise that we are facing a change of era, don't you?" he asked the crowd.

Yet the President’s speech was delivered in a context of political frustration. Milei has failed to pass his major reform bill and intended to use the national holiday to sign a sweeping ‘Pacto de 25 de Mayo’ accord installing economic ground rules.

Attempting to brush aside those problems, Milei told those gathered that he would cut taxes as soon as his reforms were being implemented. 

He called on the nation’s lawmakers to approve his ‘Ley de Bases’ reform bill, proposed widening his stalled national agreement and announced he would create a new six-person ‘May Council’ (Consejo de Mayo) to implement the reforms he seeks.

Before a half-full Plaza San Martín in the provincial capital, the President explained that the new body will be made up of representatives from different sectors.

"One representative from the national government, one from the provinces, one representative from the deputies, one from the senators, one from the trade unions and one from the Argentine business community," said Milei.

"It will have the responsibility of working on the bills that will materialise the principles adopted in the May agreement," the President said, describing the work as a “sacred task.”

Milei was joined by nearly all his top officials in Córdoba, with the notable absence of Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse. 

Various local outlets are reporting that Posse will depart government soon, having fallen from favour with the Milei and his the President's sister, chief-of-staff Karina Milei. 

Milei’s top officials – Vice-President Victoria Villarruel, Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni and the speaker of the lower house, Martín Menem – were applauded as they arrived. 

Provincial Governor Martín Llaryora, on his home turf, was roundly booed.

Milei defended his government and argued that they are fulfilling the promise of tackling inflation and reducing taxes. 

"There is no possible destiny for our nation if we don't take the burden of the state off the shoulders of good Argentines," said the President. 

Córdoba is not just another destination for Milei, it was the site of his closing campaign rally before last year’s election victory. He took 74 percent of the vote here in the run-off.

Nonetheless, the Plaza San Martín was far from full for the President’s speech, with around half the space taken up.

"We are happy, but we were expecting a little more people," said one local leader, who blamed the weather, explaining it was the coldest day of the year so far.

Those in attendance were firmly in support. "Milei uncovered irregularities in the state. We fully support him in this struggle," said Susana, 63, who watched on with her two friends. 

A heavy security operation, organised by the national portfolio led by Patricia Bullrich, was deployed for the event. Practically the entire city centre was fenced off.

State workers, civil-society groups and unions still marched in protest of Milei’s visit. As demonstrators attempted to burn tyres and block traffic on a road leading into the capital, clashes broke out. Union leaders said that at least 14 people had been injured. 

Back near the city centre, unionised state workers clashed with police officers as they attempted to reach the Plaza San Martin. 

Earlier in the day, President Milei had attended the traditional ‘Te Deum’ ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, his first as head of state.

Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge García Cuerva, called on the nation's leaders to take seriously the "paralysis of our people" and ensure they are involved in "a promising future."



More in (in spanish)