Argentine presidential election front-runner Javier Milei affirmed his commitment to a dramatic reduction in the size of the government on Tuesday evening — asserting that potential leftist rioters at the presidential offices will have to either “drag me out of there dead” or go to prison.
Milei met questions about a potential challenge from leftist organizations via protest during an interview in which he described the elimination of over a dozen government ministries. In the interview, given to the Argentine news network La Nacion+ with journalist Jonatan Viale, Milei went over his plan to literally decimate the number of federal government ministries, reducing them from the current 18 to just eight. Milei was given a map of the current agency framework of the federal government and one by one began scratching out the agencies he considered useless or foldable into other, larger ministries.
Milei is promising to merge the current Health, Social Development, Public Works, and Education Ministries into a single “Human Capital Ministry,” which would exist alongside the ministries of defense, justice, economy, foreign affairs, infrastructure, security, and interior.
The presidential front-runner explained that, as a result of the proposed changes, several secretariats currently headed by leaders of leftist and Marxist social movements, such as the Evita Movement and the Barrios de Pie organization, would cease to exist as government organizations. Viale suggested that eliminating those agencies could lead to protests.
“The question is, what do I do? [If they throw stones], I put them in jail, because the people will not lack assistance, but I get rid of the middlemen, the thieves, I get rid of those who use this to ruin the lives of good Argentines,” Milei responded.
Viale warned Milei that several of the leftist organizations would surround the presidential office and “hit you with everything.”
“Let them come and take me out,” Milei replied. “They are going to have to take me out of there dead. They are not getting me out of there. I am going to fight that fight.”
Milei accused leftist protesters of “extortion” against previous governments via violent protest.
“They have to drag me out of the Pink [House, the presidential palace] dead, and they won’t be able to,” he promised.
The Argentine economist and his La Libertad Avanza (“Liberty Advances”) coalition emerged as the big winners in Sunday’s nationwide open primary process ahead of the upcoming October general election. Milei, who has repeatedly lashed out against Argentine establishment politicians — disparagingly referring to them as “the caste” — was the most voted candidate during the primary election with roughly 30 percent of the votes.
The upcoming October presidential election will see Milei compete against Patricia Bullrich from the Juntos por el Cambio (“Together for Change”) center-right coalition and current Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa of the ruling leftist Frente de Todos (“Front for All”) coalition. Current leftist President Alberto Fernández chose not to run for reelection, prompting Massa to run for president a second time, eventually becoming the current government’s candidate.
Milei acknowledged during the interview that his primary results “exceeded expectations” while denying that his results were merely an “angry vote” against the Argentine establishment.
“People understood that freedom is the way out and that is how they expressed it,” he said.
“When something appears that you do not like or that is different, there are some who call it a mistake,” Milei continued. “Now, if continuously there are fewer and fewer people who are going to vote for you and if, at the same time, an expression that questions the status quo appears and gets a number of 30 percent, it is something too big to call it a fluke. You have to be very arrogant to believe that 7 million people are wrong and the reality is yours.”
When asked about if there is any possibility that the current government led by leftist President Alberto Fernández prematurely ends, Milei responded that he did “not rule it out.”
“[Former Argentine President Raúl] Alfonsín ended up leaving six months earlier,” Milei explained. “I am ready to take office now. That is why I am the only one who presented a complete government program. We are in condition to take office now because the situation is very delicate. Today there is a monetary imbalance worse than the one we had before the Rodrigazo. This implied a sixfold increase in inflation and a fivefold increase in poverty.”
Milei continued by explaining that since the Argentine Science Ministry would be closed down by his proposed restructuring of the executive branch, the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) will be left in private hands.
“It would be better for them to earn their money serving others”, he said with regards to the current Science Ministry staff. “What productivity do they have, what have they generated? We will look for another way to allocate it in other branches. You will earn your bread with the sweat of your brow.”
In addition to drastically streamlining the number of Ministries, Milei proposes a sharp cut in public spending, the complete elimination of the Argentine Central Bank — an organization he has described as a “cheating” mechanism and has metaphorically “destroyed” in piñata form in the past — and discarding the nation’s crumbling Argentine peso currency. Milei would replace the peso with the U.S. dollar to fight off thel 122-percent annual inflation rate the South American nation currently faces.
The process of replacing a nation’s legal tender with the U.S dollar is commonly referred to as “dollarization.” El Salvador, Ecuador, and Panama are three Latin American countries that have successfully “dollarized” their economy in recent memory.
Milei has also proclaimed himself universally pro-life, seeking to protect unborn children after Argentina legalized abortion and opposing the death penalty.
“If there is a person who commits a crime he has to pay and go to prison, but not the death penalty because it goes against the right to life,” Milei said. “It is a problem of the procedural criminal code, we have to make the penalties effective. Do the crime, serve the time.”
The libertarian economist is a staunch anti-communist and has fiercely condemned “free market” policies that require doing business with communist regimes while asserting that he “doesn’t do business with communists. He has said he would cut Argentina’s ties with China if elected president.
As a result of the current Argentine government’s pro-China stance, and due to the country’s present dire social and economic distress, the Chinese Communist Party has been able to exert significant pressure and take control of some of Argentina’s key sectors.
Milei has denounced communism as a “murderous system” and socialism as a “disease of the soul.” He participated in protests outside the Cuban Embassy in Buenos Aires in July 2021 as Cuban citizens fiercely protested against the communist Castro regime that has ruled Cuba for more than six decades.
“As long as the shitty lefties keep repeating their lies, we liberals are going to keep repeating our truths and we are going to beat them, because we are superior productively, we are superior morally and aesthetically. They can’t beat us in anything,” Milei proclaimed in a 2021 interview.
Javier Milei "Mientras que los zurdos de mierda sigan repitiendo sus mentiras, nosotros los liberales vamos a seguir repitiendo nuestras verdades y les vamos a ganar, por que somos superiores en lo productivo, somos superiores en lo moral y en lo estético. No nos pueden ganar… pic.twitter.com/T5gsMaO5Nv
— Emmanuel Rincón (@EmmaRincon) August 14, 2023
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.