By Athena Papakosta

The clock showed 07:45 am and Raul Alfonsín had just entered the elevator of the Panamericano Hotel. He was accompanied by the photographer, Victor Bouguet and the head of his security team. As the elevator moved to the ground floor, the three men were silent. It was December 10, 1983, and only a few hours remained until Alfonsín was sworn in as president of Argentina. It had been preceded by eight years of bloodthirsty dictatorship.

Yesterday, Argentina celebrated 40 years of Democracy with the “crazy” as they call him, Javier Millay being sworn in as president. The clock read 11:57 AM. exactly and the calendar said December 10, 2023.

The new era in Latin America’s third largest economy is beginning and the country’s steering wheel is turning sharply towards radical market liberalism. Argentina is leaving behind the redistributive policies of Peronist Alberto Fernandez and abandoning neoliberal Mauricio Macri’s “zero poverty” promises that thrust the country back into the arms of the International Monetary Fund.

“I didn’t come to rule the sheep, but to wake up the lions,” Javier Millay said over and over during the election campaign, and brandishing a chainsaw, he vowed to cut the wasteful state to shreds and lock up the country’s Central Bank.

Determined to level it all, he managed to convince with the exaggeration of his words and yesterday, in his maiden speech as president of Argentina, he remained true to his eccentric character.

Wearing the presidential ribbon, he did not deliver his first speech inside Congress but outside it, specifically on the stairs that lead to the building where the House of Representatives and the Senate are housed. His fans were there, from all over Argentina. Waving flags and dressed in the country’s colors, they listened attentively to Miley’s first speech as president.

“Today we end a long and sad era of decline and begin the reconstruction of our country,” the new president of Argentina said, comparing his election to the fall of the Berlin Wall since, as he explained, it marks an equally important moment in history. but of Argentina.

Emphasizing that after his country welcomed the ideas of freedom it is now ready for change and promised a sharp and painful austerity shock to fix its economic situation. “The outgoing government has left us on a path to hyperinflation and it is our absolute priority to do everything in our power to avoid disaster (…) There is no alternative to austerity” he underlined.

Argentina is on the brink of disaster. Inflation is at 143% annually, the Argentine peso has sunk, the budget deficit has soared, 4 out of 10 live below the poverty line, while the debt to the International Monetary Fund reaches 45 billion dollars.

“There is no money” Javier Millay repeated, clarifying that he prefers to tell a “difficult truth than a convenient lie”. As he explained, “we have been living with stagnant inflation for 15 years. This is the last pill we have to drink before we start rebuilding Argentina.”

The Miley season has -officially- begun.

“For better or for worse, nothing will be the same,” writes Noticias, and everyone inside and outside Argentina is waiting to find out what kind of president he will turn out to be who trusts the laws of the market but the markets don’t feel at all safe with him.