Latin America Daily Briefing
Javier Milei became Argentina’s president yesterday. His mandate, starting on the fortieth anniversary of the country’s return to democratic rule, comes in the midst of a paradigm shift in Argentina, which, in the midst of a crisis of representation, voted for an outsider candidate and reconfigured the political landscape.
Milei himself compared the situation to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He blamed the outgoing government for the country’s soaring inflation and poverty rates, for “ruining” the lives of Argentine citizens, and for leaving the nation on the brink of the “deepest crisis in our history.” (Washington Post)
Milei has made radical economic and social promises. The incoming president spoke to a crowd of supporters outside of Congress yesterday — a break in the tradition of addressing lawmakers — and promised tough times ahead: “I have to tell you again: there is no money. The conclusion is that there is no alternative to adjustment. And there is no alternative to shock. We know that in the short term the situation is going to get worse,” said Milei, who warned the adjustment “will have a negative impact on the level of activity, employment, real wages and the number of poor and indigent people.” Stagflation is likely in the medium term, that is if Argentina manages to duck hyperinflation, said Milei, the country’s first economist president. (Página 12)
Far-right international leaders have embraced Milei as one of their own, several were in attendance yesterday: former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the leader of Chile’s Republican party, José Antonio Kast, and the leader of Spain’s Vox party, Santiago Abascal.
Prominent right-wing figures “from Ben Shapiro to Elon Musk” have embraced Milei as one of his own. U.S. conservatives “view the ascent of the self-described “anarcho-capitalist” as an opportunity — both to deepen ties between the United States and Argentina and to rebuke the increasingly leftward tilt of countries throughout Latin America,” reports the Washington Post.
The inauguration guest list also included Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, Spain’s King Felipe VI, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Guardian)
- Milei is a climate change denier who has promised not to comply with the 2030 agenda. “Nature defenders in Argentina and Latin America are watching to see if he will implement his destructive environmental agenda,” as Bolsonaro did during his tenure in Brazil, “or whether he will moderate his tone,” writes Sylvia Colombo in the Guardian.
- The past forty years have been the country’s longest democratic period: ten governments without a coup d’etat. A Cenital project talks with the generation born and raised in democracy.
- The incoming political shift has been accompanied by the rise of what Revista Crisis terms the “radicalized right” in a report on growing attacks that can be traced to strategic guidance by the far-right leadership.
- Ahead of the inauguration, the incoming government’s Security Minister, Patricia Bullrich, met with her counterpart in El Salvador’s Bukele administration, Gustavo Villatoro, reports Perfil.
- El Salvador is experiencing one of the worst human rights crises since the country’s 1980-1992 civil war, because of President Nayib Bukele ’s harsh anti-gang crackdown, according to an Amnesty International report released last week. (Associated Press)
- The new constitutional proposal Chileans will vote next Sunday will likely be rejected: “The country’s political divide will likely contribute to mostly “no” votes in the plebiscite. While an elected convention dominated by leftists drafted the first version rejected in 2022, this second iteration is the product of an elected council controlled by conservatives,” explains Arturo Porzecanski in Americas Quarterly.
- The draft constitution is a big disappointment for campaigners seeking equal rights for women and Indigenous peoples, reports the Guardian.
- Chile’s “government is struggling to provide adequate shelter for rising numbers of migrants, predominantly from Venezuela,” reports Reuters. (Via Americas Migration Brief)
- Chile will always be the Achilles’ Heel of Henry Kissinger’s legacy, argues Peter Kornbluh in Progressive Magazine. “That is because the voluminous historical record—formerly classified memoranda, meeting summaries, and telephone transcripts that capture Kissinger’s own words, arguments, and policies for posterity—leaves no doubt that he was the architect of U.S. efforts to destabilize Chilean democracy and the enabler-in-chief of the barbaric military regime led by General Augusto Pinochet.
- The Washington Post flags a curious irony of the U.S.’s defense of Guyana in light of territorial claims by Venezuela: “One of the main origins of the dispute stems from a U.S. intervention more than a century ago, during which Washington was on the side of Venezuela — not Guyana.” (See last Friday’s post.)
- A U.S. federal judge approved a settlement that prohibits U.S. officials from separating migrant families for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and offers aid to thousands of parents and children forced apart under the Trump administration, reports the Washington Post.
- Some Cubans are reportedly opting to stay in Nicaragua instead of continuing north as it is “a dictatorship that offers opportunities,” according to 14ymedio. (Via Americas Migration Brief.)
- Middle-class fears of losing a high standard of living because of green policies is driving the rise of the far right across the world, Colombian President Gustavo Petro told the Guardian at the Cop28 UN climate summit. He warned that urgent action on cutting emissions was required to prevent more people being forced from their homes because of the climate crisis.
- The U.S. Biden administration announced sanctions against the leaders of four armed gangs in Haiti, including one who is the target of a $2 million FBI bounty and forced the evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy this summer. Shortly after, on Friday, the United Nations sanctions committee also designated the same individuals, reports the Miami Herald.
- “Rights groups have meanwhile called for sanctions to target those funding the gangs and for a clampdown on arms trafficking, believed to come largely from small-scale traffickers shipping guns and ammunition from Florida,” reports Reuters.
- CQ has a deep-dive report on Haiti by Brian Ellsworth that covers the current situation, the Kenya support mission, the constitutional crisis, with context going back to the Revolution
- New trends, from cheap flights to digital nomadism, have changed migration to Mexico — “and the dividing line between migrants who spend time in Mexico but don’t mean to stay, and immigrants who settle there permanently, is considerably blurred,” reports Americas Quarterly.
- At least 14 people were killed and another seven injured in confrontation between villagers in cowboy hats, armed with sickles and hunting rifles, and suspected gang members in Texcaltitlán, in Mexico State, reports the Associated Press.