Argentina’s ‘Donald Trump’: New Anti-Establishment President Aims to Fix Economic Catastrophe

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BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s new president faces a fight to pull his country out of economic and political chaos.

Javier Milei is anti-establishment, pro-life, and strongly supports Israel. 

He’s warning his countrymen to brace for tough days ahead as he aims to restore his country.

On the steps of Argentina’s University of Buenos Aires, family and friends met recently to celebrate a milestone in the lives of their loved ones as dozens of students joined the ranks of Argentina’s newly minted law school graduates.

But amidst the pomp and circumstance, there’s deep concern among them about the economic and political future of their country. “It is really bad in Argentina the economy today,” Carla Sbacaban, a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires, told CBN News.

“I am not optimistic because we are used to always getting the same from politicians,” said her fellow classmate Felipe. “We hope for a change, but nothing ever happens.”

Argentina’s new President Javier Milei warned his countrymen this week to brace for drastic spending cuts not seen in a generation. “We are going to begin the reconstruction of Argentina after more than 100 years of decline. And although we are going to have to endure a period of hardness, we are going to succeed,” President Milei said on Inauguration Day. “There is no night that has not been defeated by the day.”

Milei, a populist outsider often dubbed Argentina’s ‘Donald Trump’ because of his anti-establishment, pro-gun, and pro-family stance, shocked the country by winning November’s presidential contest.

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“I think the mixture of him being an outsider with little political experience, but someone with a very rigid ideology makes him an enigmatic figure when we consider how he will govern a complex country in such a complex situation,” said Gabriel Vommaro, a professor at the University of San Martin.

Milei faces a titanic challenge.

“The biggest challenge is economic, and it requires significant shock therapy,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi with the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

South America’s second-largest economy – once one of the richest countries in the world – is now dead broke.

“I feel anxious, we are facing a difficult situation, and we don’t know what is going to happen,” Leandro Quentar, a resident of Buenos Aires told CBN News.

Inflation is at a staggering 140 percent and is expected to reach 200 percent next year.

“Every week prices change and it’s very difficult to plan for something or save money, you don’t even know if the value of the things is cheap or expensive, it changes all the time and most of the time your salary doesn’t keep up with the inflation,” said Mariano, another resident of the Argentine capital.

Four in ten Argentines now live in poverty. With recession looming, its currency in free fall, and the country drowning in debt, Milei says only radical change can pull his country out of this economic abyss.

His first order of business this week was to slash Argentina’s government from 18 ministries to 9, sharply devalue its currency, and make significant cuts to energy and transportation subsidies.

“The conclusion is that there is no alternative to adjustment and there is no alternative to shock measures,” President Milei announced.

Meanwhile, Milei has given indications that he plans to make his administration one of the most pro-Israel governments in Argentina’s history at a time when other Latin American countries have actually been very critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy against Hamas.

“It’s very possible that he will move the Argentinean embassy to Jerusalem, symbolic though it is, as a gesture, it’s a very important one,” Ottolenghi with FDD told CBN News.

Argentina, home to South America’s largest Jewish population, is closely watching Israel’s war against Hamas.

Milei met with Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen a day before his swearing-in.

“I support Israel’s full right to defend itself against those attacks,” Milei said. “In addition to that, we have launched the proposal to declare Hamas a terrorist organization.”

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