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Javier Milei, the Chainsaw Man

By Jay Li Apr, 3. 2024


Amid Argentina’s decades-long economic crisis, a so-called “madman” bursts onto the scene wielding a roaring chainsaw, prepared to mince the central government that he holds responsible into tiny pieces. This chainsaw man is no shōnen manga protagonist, he is the all-new, ardent anarcho-capitalist and avowed anti-socialist Argentinian president, Javier Milei. 


Jane Hong art

From Rolling Stones cover artist to television pundit to populist politician, Milei defies the conventional image of a president. His theatrics earned him the title of “El Loco” (The Madman) as a child, emblematic of his bombastic personality put on full display during his campaign, which consisted of chainsaw waving and profanity-laden rants against the “political caste” which he promises to eradicate. Such fiery, anti-establishment rhetoric echoes that of other far-right populists such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, who have expressed staunch support for Milei.


However, unlike Trump and Bolsonaro, Milei won by running from his third-party political coalition, Libertad Avanca (Advancing Liberty). He broke the firm grip that the left-leaning Peronists held on Argentine politics since the 1940s by riding the tsunami of intense voter frustration with the established political elites’ inability to address their enduring economic crisis. 


In a country where 45% of the population was in poverty and inflation topped 150% as per AP News, Milei’s promise to resolve Argentina’s unprecedented and drastic economic downturn hinged on equally unprecedented and drastic reforms that he has dubbed “shock therapy,” embodied in his iconic chainsaw which accompanied him throughout his campaign. His radical reform package aimed to ferociously shrink the government and spending by eliminating the Central Bank and half of government ministries, cutting welfare programs, government jobs, spending and subsidies and even replacing the Argentinian peso with the U.S. dollar. 


“Argentinians have undeniably been dealing with incredible economic hardship under prior administrations, so it is only natural for them to rally behind a leader who defies the mainstream by touting radically different policies,” Junior Sophie Azari said.

Describing Milei’s reforms as controversial would be an understatement; with his Libertad Avanza party holding a mere 38 out of 257 seats in Congress, Milei faces an uphill battle in realizing the radical reforms he championed during his campaign. In fact, on Feb. 4, Argentina’s national legislature decisively opposed a series of his bills—which, among other things, sought to privatize government bodies and curtail labor and environmental protections—eventually removing over two-thirds of his original articles. However, the president’s determination remains unwavering, evident in his characterization of his opponents as “traitors,” and assertion that he does not need Congress’s allegiance to save his country, as per the Financial Times. 

Despite being met with intense backlash from Argentina’s legislature and protests and strikes from citizens, Bloomberg reports that Milei’s economic reforms have yielded the first monthly budget surplus in the country since 2012. Nevertheless, “shock therapy” will be far from painless. After suddenly slashing the value of the peso in half in December, annual inflation jumped to 250%, a number economists expect to rise in the next few months according to Reuters, increasing prices of goods and weakening Argentinians’ salaries, savings and spending power. 


“If Milei truly has his constituents’ best interests in mind with his “shock therapy,” he needs to change his approach: Antagonizing his political opponents will make it incredibly difficult if not impossible to actually pass these reforms and recover the Argentinian economy,” Senior Eric Yue said. 

Milei’s vision boils down to one thing: an upheaval of the status quo. But whether these controversial chainsaw tactics will make it through Congress and be the solution his voter base has been awaiting remains uncertain.

 

About the Contributors


Jay Li

staff writer


Jay Li is a junior at Leland High school and the Opinions Page Editor for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys playing game pigeon and hanging out with his friends and family.



Jane Hong

artist


Jane Hong is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for the Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to K-pop music, dancing, sleeping, and doodling.

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