Argentina’s cities are rapidly losing their traditional vertigo. A strident, lethargic, lethargic silence survives. The euphoria of winning the World Cup is over, although the media still insist that the Argentinians “are world champions”.

The people are aware that nothing will ever be the same again. They have kept deep within their interior those ideas of equality, solidarity, fraternity, smiles and hugs. Now it’s every man for himself for almost everyone, except for those who already had everything… and are going for more.

It is not an economic shock – to which citizens are accustomed -, it is not a change of government, but a cultural change. It will no longer be the same… and there are almost four years to go.

What is certain is that in less than a week, the ultra-right-wing Javier Milei, strident defender of the self-regulatory capacity of the market and enemy of state intervention in the economy, betrayed almost all the central promises of his campaign, with the sad corollary that in spite of this he did as much damage to Argentina as if he had kept them.

But these measures applied by the far-right government have already been applied in Argentina by Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), Fernando de la Rúa (1999-2001) and Carlos Menem (1989-1999), and always ended in disaster, with an indebted country and an impoverished and angry people.

The current cycle of decadence was caused by Macri, whose finance minister, Luis Caputo (now Milei’s economy minister), negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the largest loan ever granted by the organisation, 45 billion dollars that disappeared in the hands of corruption and speculators.

And that cycle continued with the failed government of the so-called progressive Alberto Fernández, who continued to be tied to whatever the IMF ordered, squandering the political and social capital accumulated over 78 years of Peronism.

In his first week, Milei has already taken new usurious loans from organisations ready to finance his government’s blunders, to cover the maturities before the IMF, which will inevitably worsen the chronic shortage of dollars.

One of his first measures was to nationalise 30 billion dollars of private foreign debt. This means that a group of importing companies got into debt abroad and now the government wants to pass the bill on to all Argentines.

Millions of Argentines have gone from the delirium of hatred against Peronism – and especially against Kirchnerism – promoted by the mainstream media, to the neoliberal-anarcho-libertarian nightmare, with galloping inflation and stripped of all the state protection that allowed them to weather the situation.

Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said that “we want to put an end to the poverty business. It is a decision of the President”. He was supposed to be talking about the elimination of state subsidies and aid to the less well-off.

Everything seems to have been calculated, since anticipating the social unrest, this president who closes all his statements with the cry of “Long live freedom, dammit! published a protocol worthy of dictatorships in which all forms of protest are criminalised and fascist threats are launched, such as the one to identify all participants in demonstrations, as well as their vehicles.

Riding on these repudiations of the measure of the former presidential candidate and now Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, the ultra-right-wing MP José Luis Espert made himself visible with violence and with his now classic message of apology for crime: “Jail or bullet”.

National and provincial deputies, human rights organisations, trade unions, social organisations, artists, intellectuals and personalities from all sectors repudiated the statements of the ultra-right-winger. In the midst of a brutal adjustment with serious social consequences and under the promise of order, the government seeks to suppress public demonstrations against the effects of the official measures. Nothing new: they intend to prevent the constitutional right of social protest with repression.

The paradigm guiding La Libertad Avanza is the same as that expressed by the ultra-right during the pandemic: let those who have to die die. The aim is to produce a sharp and permanent transformation of the social structure, like the last dictatorship, that further concentrates wealth, sweeps away aspirations for equality and places extreme individualism as the guiding principle, says David Cufré.

Campaigning is one thing, power is another

For months, Milei recited his message of hatred for “the caste” (traditional politics), spoke of dynamiting the Central Bank, dollarising the economy, putting an end to inflation and deregulating above all the foreign trade sectors (exports and imports).

But the “caste” is still there: he incorporated the neoliberal right (Macrismo) and the Peronist right into his government cabinet and depends on them for any legislative approval. As a graffiti in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Flores says, “Milei in government, Macri in power”.

The governors of 11 of Argentina’s 23 provinces declared an economic emergency, following the respective announcements of their plans to control and reduce public spending, in the face of the measures taken this week by the Milei government. The provinces will not be able to pay salaries to civil servants this month and next January.

If any middle-class people dreamed that their dream of dollarisation (to save, travel or protect themselves from the usual inflationary shocks) would come true, they were surprised by a 118 percent devaluation, attacking the middle classes’ dream of dollarising the country. Today the dollar has become practically unaffordable for those who seek this currency as a means of savings, investment, travel, or even to protect themselves from inflationary shocks such as this one.

He put fear into the citizenry, assuring that if his economic shock was not applied, there would be hyperinflation of three thousand per cent a year (before taking office it was already 160 per cent) and “convinced” of the need for a necessary and temporary adjustment. But the real fact is that in one week prices – food, services, transport, fuels – are increasing day by day: the price of food has even tripled, and with the withdrawal of subsidies, public transport (buses, coaches, trains) is unaffordable for wage earners.

The government has told the Argentine Industrial Union of its decision to repeal the Supply Law, which allows the state to impose sanctions for deliberate shortages of goods and services that cover essential needs, thus seeking to eradicate any possibility of official intervention, even in situations that are of great concern to the population.

But there are still almost two weeks to go before the start of the new year, which looks set to be disastrous and catastrophic for the vast majority of the population in a country where 40 percent already live in poverty: on that day, the withdrawal of state support for basic services (electricity, water, gas) will come into force, in a new and huge tariff slashing against the citizenry.

The government also eliminated price controls on rents and decreed their dollarisation, a measure that tenants will suffer.

The new year will be hard. They left no room for nostalgia when even this democracy, so outraged and void of content, is in danger. It is a historical subject that must recompose its forces, and recreate its strategies and its languages, because, without a doubt, the dialogue with the “great Argentine people” has been interrupted.

Milei’s relationship with Judaism does not escape its relationship with power. His rabbi and spiritual guide Axel Wahnish will surely be the ambassador to Israel, who will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to add another geopolitical polemic.

At an event organised by the Chabad organisation (of the Lubavitch Hasidic branch), Milei predicted that “the forces of heaven will support Argentina and Israel”, denying the genocide of 20,000 Palestinians by Israeli attacks, just as he denies the Argentine civil-military dictatorship and the 30,000 disappeared.

The conservative daily La Nación warned about the risk of religious approaches in presidential speeches and the influence on state policies. In Argentina, the interference of the Catholic Church in the state and the more recent influence of evangelical churches is well known. Milei’s attacks on Pope Francis were encouraged by the Opus Dei, where the financiers of La Libertad Avanza

Nobody – Peronists, radicals, Trotskyites, communists, centrists, trade unionists, social leaders – is spared from what is to come and popular reorganisation is urgently needed, which should be done from below: the only thing that can be built from above is well.

The original article can be found here