Javier Milei

Presidential Inaugural Address

delivered 10 December 2023, Palace of the Congress Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Audio mp3 of Address       Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


Hello, everyone.

Distinguished Ministers,
National Deputies and Senators,
Foreign Presidents and Dignitaries,


Today a new era begins in Argentina.

Today we end a long and sad history of decadence and decline, and begin the road to rebuilding our country. Argentinians have expressed resoundingly a will for change that has no return.

There is no going back!

Today we bury decades of failure, infighting, and senseless struggles,  struggles that only succeeded in destroying our beloved country and leaving us in ruins. Today a new era begins in Argentina, an era of peace and prosperity, an era of growth and development, an era of freedom and progress.

Two hundred years ago, a group of Argentine citizens gathered in San Miguel de Tucumán and told the world that the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata were no longer a Spanish colony and that from that historic moment on, we would be a free and sovereign nation. For decades, we had internal disputes about what institutional form our country needed. In 1853, after 40 years of declaring independence under the auspices of a small group of young idealists known today as the Generation of '37, we decided as a people to embrace the ideas of liberty.

Thus, a liberal Constitution was sanctioned to guarantee the benefits of freedom to us, to our posterity, and to all the people of the world who wish to inhabit Argentine soil.

What followed the adoption of that Constitution, with its strong liberal roots, was the most impressive economic expansion in our history. From a country of barbarians engaged in a total war, we became the world's leading power. In the early 20th century, we were the beacon of the West. Our shores welcomed with open arms millions of immigrants fleeing a ravaged Europe in search of a horizon of progress.

Unfortunately, our leadership decided to abandon the model that had made us rich and embrace the impoverishing ideas of collectivism.

For more than 100 years, politicians have insisted on defending a model that only produces poverty, stagnation, and misery. A model that assumes that citizens exist to serve politics, not that politics exists to serve citizens.

A model that considers the task of a politician to be to direct the lives of individuals in all possible spheres and areas. A model that considers the state as a spoil of war to be shared among friends.

Ladies and gentlemen, this model has failed. It has failed all over the world, but it has failed especially in our country. Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a tragic era for the world, these elections have marked a turning point in our history.

The People: Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.

Much has been said these days about the inheritance we are to receive. Let me be very clear about this. No government has received a worse inheritance than the one we are receiving.

In its beginnings, Kirchnerism boasted of having two surpluses. That is, fiscal and external surpluses. Today it leaves us with twin deficits of 17 points of GDP. In turn, 15 of these 17 GDP points correspond to the consolidated deficit between the Treasury and the Central Bank.

Therefore, there is no viable solution that avoids attacking the budget deficit. At the same time, of these 15 points of fiscal deficit, 5 correspond to the National Treasury and 10 to the Central Bank. Therefore, the solution implies, on the one hand, a fiscal adjustment in the national public sector of 5 points of GDP, which, unlike in the past, will fall almost entirely on the State and not on the private sector.

Therefore, there is no viable solution that avoids attacking the fiscal deficit. At the same time, of these 15 points of fiscal deficit, 5 correspond to the National Treasury and 10 to the Central Bank.

Therefore, the solution implies, on the one hand, a fiscal adjustment in the national public sector of 5 points of GDP, which, unlike in the past, will fall almost entirely on the State and not on the private sector.

On the other hand, it is necessary to eliminate the Central Bank's interest-bearing liabilities, which are responsible for the 10 points of the Central Bank's deficit. This would put an end to money issuance and thus to the only empirically true and theoretically valid cause of inflation.

However, given that monetary policy acts with a lag of 18 to 24 months, even if we stop issuing money today, we will continue to pay the cost of the outgoing government's monetary mess. Spending 20 points of GDP, as the outgoing government did, is not free. We will pay for it in inflation. At the same time, foreign exchange restrictions, another legacy of this government....

The People: Milei dear, the people are with you!

At the same time, the foreign exchange restrictions, another legacy of this government, not only constitute a social and productive nightmare, because they imply high interest rates, low levels of activity, low levels of formal employment, and miserable real wages that drive the increase of the destitute poor, but also the surplus of money in the economy today is double what it was before the “Rodrigazo.” To have an idea of what this means, let us remember that the Rodrigazo multiplied the inflation rate by 6 times, so a similar event would mean multiplying the inflation rate by 12 times, and given that it has been traveling at a rate of 300%, we could move to an annual rate of 3,600.

At the same time -- be calm, it doesn't end here, the inheritance continues. [break in the speech to address directly an elated audience]

At the same time, given the situation of the Central Bank's interest-bearing liabilities, which are lower than before Alfonsín's hyperinflation, the money supply could quadruple in a very short time, bringing inflation to levels of 15,000% per year. This is the legacy they are leaving us: an inflation rate of 15,000% per year, which we will fight tooth and nail to eradicate.

The People: Yes, it is possible! Yes, it is possible!

Moreover, this number, which seems crazy, I want you to know that it implies an inflation rate of 52% per month, while today, according to private estimates, it travels at a rate that varies between 20 and 40% per month for the months between December and February. The outgoing government left us with hyperinflation, and it is our top priority to make every effort to avoid such a catastrophe that would lead to poverty of over 90% and indigence of over 50%. Therefore, there is no alternative to adjustment. On the other hand, the legacy does not end there, since the tariff imbalances are comparable to the disaster left by Kirchnerism in 2015. In the exchange rate, the gap is between 150% and 200%, levels similar to those of the Rodrigazo.

At the same time, the debt of importers exceeds US$30 billion, and the retained earnings of foreign companies amount to US$10 billion. The debt of the Central Bank and YPF is US$25 billion, and the outstanding debt of the Treasury is another US$35 billion. In terms of debt, this means that the debt pump has reached US$100 billion, which must be added to the existing debt of almost US$420 billion.

On top of these problems, of course, are this year's debt maturities, which amount to US$90 billion in pesos and US$25 billion in foreign currencies with multilateral credit organizations. However, with the financial markets closed and the IMF agreement in tatters due to the outgoing government's brutal defaults, the debt rollover is a challenge even for the mythical Cyclops.

As if all this were not enough, this is happening in an economy that has not grown since 2011. In line with what has already been said, formal employment in the private sector remains stagnant at 6 million jobs, reaching the madness that it has been surpassed by 33% by informal employment. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that real salaries have been destroyed, which are around 300 dollars a month, not only six times lower than those of the convertibility period, but if the trend of those years had been maintained, or as they used to say, the damned neoliberalism, today they would oscillate between 3,000 and 3,500 dollars a month.

They have ruined our lives. They have reduced our salaries by a factor of 10. Therefore, we should not be surprised that populism leaves us 45% poor and 10% destitute. After such a situation, which seems to be irreversible, it should be clear that there is no possible alternative to adaptation. Nor is there any room for debate between shock and gradualism.

First, because from an empirical point of view, all gradualist programs have ended badly, while all shock programs, except the 1959 program, have been successful. Second, because, from a theoretical point of view, when a country lacks reputation, as is, unfortunately, the case in Argentina, businessmen will not invest until they see that the fiscal adjustment will make it recessionary. Third, and no less important, gradualism requires financing. And unfortunately, I have to tell you again: THERE IS NO MONEY!

Therefore, the conclusion is that there is no alternative to adjustment and no alternative to shock. Of course, this will hurt the level of activity, employment, real wages, on the number of poor and destitute people. There will be stagflation, it is true, but it will not be very different from what has happened in the last 12 years. Let us remember that in the last 12 years GDP per capita has fallen by 15% in a context where we have accumulated inflation of 5,000%.

So we have been living in stagflation for more than a decade. Therefore, this is the last straw to begin the reconstruction of Argentina.

The People: Milei dear, the people are with you!

At the same time, after the macro adjustment that we are about to make, which will be less painful the more country risk goes down. And the better our containment from the Ministry of Human Capital, the better the situation will begin to improve. So there will be light at the end of the road.

In the alternative case, the sensible proposal was progressive, whose only source of financing is the issuance of money that will weaken in a hyperinflation that will lead the country to the worst crisis in its history, added to the fact that they will put us in a decadent spiral that will equate us with the darkness of Chavez and Maduro's Venezuela.

Therefore, after such a situation, there can be no doubt that the only possible option is adjustment, an orderly adjustment that falls with all its force on the state and not on the private sector.

We know that it will be difficult, and that is why I would like to share with you a quote from one of the best presidents in Argentine history, Julio Argentino Roca:

Nothing great, nothing stable and lasting is conquered in the world when it comes to the freedom of men and the gratitude of peoples unless it is at the cost of supreme efforts and painful sacrifices.

But our challenges do not stop at the economic level. The level of deterioration in our country is such that it affects all areas of community life. In terms of security, Argentina has become a bloodbath. Criminals walk free, while good Argentines are locked behind bars. Drug trafficking has slowly taken over our streets to the point that one of the most important cities in our country has been taken over by narcotics and violence. Our security forces have been humiliated and abused for decades, abandoned by a political class that has turned its back on those who watch over us. The anomie is such that only 3% of crimes are convicted. No more prosecution for criminals.

The People: Police, Police, Police!

On the social front, we have a country where half of the population is poor, with a completely torn social fabric. More than 20 million Argentines cannot live in dignity because they are prisoners of a system that only generates more poverty. As the great Jesús Huerta de Soto says, anti-poverty plans generate more poverty. The only way out of poverty is more freedom.

See also: Javier Milei - Presidential Nomination Victory Speech

The same thing is happening in education. To give you an idea of the deterioration we are going through, only 16% of our children finish school on time and in the right way, only 16%, only 16 out of 100. That means that 84% of our children do not finish school on time and in the right way. In turn, 70% of children who finish school cannot solve a basic math problem or understand a text. In fact, in the most recent PISA evaluations, Argentina ranked 66th out of 81 countries and seventh in Latin America. Argentina was the first country in the world to eliminate illiteracy. If only Sarmiento could see what they are doing with education.

In health care, the system has completely collapsed. Hospitals are destroyed, doctors are paid a pittance, and Argentines have no access to basic health care. So much so that during the pandemic, if Argentina had done what the average country in the world did, we would have had 30,000 deaths. But thanks to the negligence and inefficiency of the state, 130,000 Argentines lost their lives.

This is the current situation that politicians talk so much about. This is the argument they use to justify the huge increase in public spending, which only benefits them.

In all areas, wherever you look, the situation in Argentina is one of emergency. If we look at the infrastructure of our country, the situation is the same. Only 16% of our roads are paved and only 11% are in good condition. It is no accident that about 15,000 Argentines die in traffic accidents every year. What I am saying is that the situation in Argentina is critical and urgent.

We have no alternatives and no time. We have no room for sterile discussions. Our country demands action and immediate action. The political class is leaving a country on the brink of the deepest crisis in its history. Each of them will have to take their responsibility. It is not my job to point them out. We neither seek nor desire the difficult decisions that must be made in the coming weeks. But unfortunately, we have no choice.

However, our commitment to the Argentine people is unwavering. We will make all the necessary decisions to solve the problem caused by 100 years of profligacy of the political class. Even if it is difficult at first. We know that the situation will get worse in the short term.

But then we will see the fruits of our efforts, having laid the foundations for solid and sustainable growth over time. We also know that all is not lost. The challenges we face are enormous, but so is our ability to overcome them. It will not be easy; 100 years of failure will not be undone in one day. But one day there is a beginning, and today is that day.

The People: Yes, it is possible! Yes, it is possible!

Today we are beginning to leave the path of decadence and we are beginning to walk the path of prosperity. We have everything to be the country we have always dreamed of being. We have the resources, we have the people, we have the creativity, and most importantly, we have the resilience to move forward.

Today we return to embrace the ideas of freedom, those ideas that are summarized in the definition of liberalism by our greatest hero of the ideas of freedom, Professor Alberto Venegas Lynch, who says that:

Liberalism is the full respect for the life project of others, based on the principle of non-aggression, in defense of the right to life, liberty, and property, whose basic institutions are private property, markets free of government intervention, free competition, division of labor and social cooperation.

This 57-word sentence sums up the essence of the new social contract chosen by the Argentine people.

The People: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

This new social contract proposes a different country, a country where the State does not run our lives but watches over our rights, a country where those who harm us pay!

A country in which those who do evil and violate the rights of their fellow citizens do not receive the support of society, in our terms, those who do evil do not get paid. A country that allows everything within the law, but nothing outside the law. A country that supports those who need it but does not allow itself to be blackmailed by those who use those who have the least to enrich themselves.

As far as the Argentine political class is concerned, I would like to tell them that we are not here to persecute anyone, we are not here to settle old scores or to discuss power spaces. Our project is not a debt payment project, our project is a country project. We do not ask for blind support, but we will not tolerate hypocrisy, dishonesty, or ambition for power to interfere with the change that Argentines have chosen. We welcome with open arms all political, labor, and business leaders who want to be part of the new Argentina.

So, no matter where they come from, no matter what they have done before, the only thing that matters is where they want to go. To those who would use violence or blackmail to bring about change, we say that they will find a president of unwavering conviction who will use all the levers of the state to bring about the changes our country needs.

We will not give up, we will not back down, we will not surrender. We will move forward with the changes this country needs because we are certain that embracing the ideas of freedom is the only way to get out of the hole they have put us in.

The People: Olé, olé, olé, Milei, Milei!

Therefore, and in conclusion, let it be clear: today a new era begins in Argentina. The challenge before us is titanic, but the true strength of a people is measured by how they face challenges when they arise. And every time we think that our capacity to meet those challenges has been reached, we look to the sky and remember that that capacity may well be unlimited.

The challenge is enormous, but we will face it with conviction, we will work tirelessly, and we will achieve our goal. It is no coincidence that this presidential inauguration takes place during the holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, for it celebrates the true essence of freedom. The Maccabean War is the symbol of the triumph of the weak over the mighty, of the few over the many, of light over darkness, and above all, of truth over lies, for you know that I would rather tell you an uncomfortable truth than a comfortable lie.

I am convinced that we will come out on top. I remember that two years ago we entered this House as deputies, together with Villaruel, who is now the Vice President of the Nation. I remember being told in an interview that if there are two of you out of 257, you won't get anything done. I also remember that day, the answer was a quote from Maccabees 3:19, which says that victory in battle does not depend on the number of soldiers, but on the power that comes from heaven.

So God bless the Argentines and may the powers of heaven be with us in this challenge. Thank you very much. It will be difficult, but we will do it.

Long live freedom, damn it!

The People: Long live!

Long live freedom, damn it!

The People: Long live!

Long live freedom, damn it!

The People: Long live!

Let us take our hands back. We will succeed.

Original Text Source: Professionally outsourced translation/interpretation

Original Audio Source: YouTube

Original Image of Alberto Benegas Lynch: wikimedia.org

Original Image of Argentine Flag Source: Wikipedia

Image of Lynch Note: Cropped, background removed, rendered in B&W, contrast enhanced

Audio Note: Significant line noise in the opening minutes across all surveyed video sources -- apparently using the same feed -- but subsiding at/about 3:30. Digital noise reduction and EQ/stereo enhancement filters used with modest improvement in perceived content clarity and signal fidelity.

Page Updated: 12/13/23

U.S. Copyright Status: Text and Audio = Uncertain. Image of Alberto Benegas Lynch = CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Image of Flag = Public domain.

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