Leftists across the world are showing their willingness to fight dirty in their desperation to stop the so-called fascist and neoliberal Argentine President-Elect Javier Milei. The paleolibertarian, an outspoken advocate for market liberalization, will take office on December 10, 2023. This is driving the left into juvenile, knee-jerk behavior that will come to be known as Milei Derangement Syndrome.
Demonization of Milei as a candidate failed to stop his electoral victory on November 19. Now his opponents are in a rush to undermine him before he even takes office. If they prevail, the losers will be the Argentine people, who have been mired in economic crises for generations.
Milei’s victory shocked the left worldwide. Their media and spokesmen are peddling the idea that Milei is “a dangerous, far-right politician that represents a danger to democracy.” A group of 100 economists led by Thomas Piketty and José Antonio Ocampo—mentors of Latin America’s socialists—shared a letter before the election. They warned Milei would lead to “further economic devastation” and “social chaos” for Argentina.
These blind ideologues ignore that the policies they promote—such as crippling trade protectionism and immense wealth distribution—have led to Argentina’s profound economic, social, and political desolation. Even the nation’s Statistics Institute reports 2023 poverty at 40 percent. Neighboring Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay have poverty rates of 24.3, 4.8, and 10.4 percent, respectively. Likewise, even the central bank reports 143 percent inflation.
The leftist strategy now is to fabricate ideological or political connections between previous authoritarian regimes and Milei. An article by the Guardian blatantly distorts reality by claiming that Milei wants to emulate the economic policies of the military dictatorship in 1976. It also claims the libertarian economist has an acquiescent attitude towards the dictatorship.
This will not surprise Impunity Observer readers, but the truth is contrary to what the willfully ignorant Guardian has touted. Milei has firmly and openly criticized the dictatorship on multiple occasions in the past five years. In 2018, during an interview with Argentine journalist Jonatan Viale, Milei argued the dictatorship’s economic policies were similar to those of previous administrations: focused on expanding the state.
Progressive media, however, are not lone actors seeking to undermine Milei’s presidency. Unions and leftist organizations are rallying the troops to blockade the path to liberalization, literally and figuratively.
On November 23, Argentine far-left organizations, also known as piqueteros or picketers, announced protests against the Milei administration on December 19–20. This date commemorates 22 years since the 2001 economic crisis. Eduardo Belliboni—leader of the piquetero Worker Pole movement, affiliated with the Marxist Worker’s Party—is open about his inclinations towards defiance and sabotage. “We are prepared to face this new government,” he explains, referring to his organization’s penchant for violence: blockades, vandalism, and occupations. The specter of direct violence against Milei, his colleagues, and their families is also real.
Although Milei has stated on multiple occasions that he will continue the social safety net for the most vulnerable Argentines, leftist organizations have resorted to fear mongering. The piqueteros are echoing the line that Milei will “strip workers of their rights.”
In fact, he wants to cut out the parasitic middlemen who have embedded themselves in the state. In administering and dolling out welfare-state provisions, these middlemen collect a commission. The piqueteros are a mafia, an arm of the middlemen, and they extort the most vulnerable to make them join fake protests.
Former presidents and leftist leaders of the region have condemned Milei and backed the intimidation. Former Uruguayan socialist President José Mujica, for example, has warned that if Milei applies classical-liberal economic policies there will be “unavoidable resistance in the streets.”
Paradoxically, Mujica did not say a word when incumbent Economy Minister Sergio Massa’s economic policies triggered an inflation crisis and poverty spike. Likewise, in 2019 when the Chavista dictatorship violently repressed peaceful demonstrators, Mujica claimed that “demonstrators should avoid staying in front of the police’s tanks.”
Leftist media, union leaders, and socialist politicians claim that Milei is a threat to democracy. However, they are the antidemocratic ones, as they refuse to accept Argentine will and Milei’s landslide electoral victory. Milei was brazenly clear with his campaign message, even sporting a chainsaw on occasion. His mandate from the electorate to cut the scope of government is overwhelming.
Whenever a president who fights for liberty takes office, these familiar leftist actors start a series of physical assaults, lies, and demonization campaigns to undermine him. Meanwhile, they remain silent or even collaborate with totalitarian regimes, such as those of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—democracy be damned.
Not only are Milei’s proposed reforms necessary to avoid an even more perilous crisis, they have the backing of voters. Leftists are demonstrating that they care about the people’s will only when leftists win. If other political movements prevail, leftists move heaven and earth to provoke their downfall.
They have already done so in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama in recent years. The Argentine left will apply the same recipe. In the end, deceit and violence are all the left have left against the Milei train.
The left and their leaders seem to forget that the harmful Peronista policies—based on wealth redistribution and so-called social justice—have gotten Argentina into its current critical situation. The only way for Argentina to end its crises is by restructuring the state and adopting market reforms. For Argentina to get back on the road to prosperity, Milei will need determination and strength to confront the totalitarian enemies of freedom.
Milei has a golden opportunity that cannot go to waste.
Andrés Sebastián holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of the Americas, Ecuador. He founded Libertario, a Spanish-speaking community that promotes the ideas of liberty in Latin America, and he collaborates with the Ecuadorian liberal think tank Libre Razón. Follow @asdp250.