Monday, July 15, 2024

ARGENTINA | 19-10-2023 18:22

Patricia Bullrich closes campaign, promises to end 'Kirchnerite corruption'

Patricia Bullrich wrapped up her presidential campaign Thursday, vowing to tackle crime, corruption and record inflation, while taking aim at her main rivals.

Tough-talking former security minister Patricia Bullrich wrapped up her presidential campaign Thursday, vowing to tackle crime, corruption and record inflation, while taking aim at her main rivals.

Bullrich's rally in Lomas de Zamora, a city south of the capital, capped an electoral campaign marked by the spectacular surge of political outsider Javier Milei, who has seized on deep voter content with traditional parties.

Bullrich, 67, the presidential candidate for the center-right opposition coalition, slammed Milei's proposals – including one to make it easier to buy guns.

"In the United States they go to the schools and kill children. Do we want that for Argentina? We are a civilised country, it's not the law of the jungle," said Bullrich.

She also criticised her other competitor, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who has overseen record inflation levels, as the "worst economy minister we have ever had."

Sunday's presidential election comes as Latin America's third-biggest economy reels from annual inflation of almost 140 percent and with 40 percent of the population living in poverty.

Bullrich, who was security minister under former president Mauricio Macri, has called for a harsh audit of the country's plethora of social assistance programmes, budget cuts, and a crackdown on crime.

"No more poverty managers. No more pickets [protests with street blockades]. No more eternal [social] plans. The plans will have a period of time, [people] will be trained and then they will go to work," she said in reference to the state's social benefits.

The candidate denounced "brutal pornography" and "Kirchnerite corruption" in Lomas de Zamora, a Peronist stronghold marked by the recent scandal of top provincial official Martín Insaurralde, who was photographed on a luxury yacht in Marbella with a famous model while on vacation. He is now being investigated for alleged corruption.

Bullrich, 67, promised to be "the most austere government in Argentine history" and return security to the country. "We are going to get all the drug-traffickers out of their dens," she said, flanked by former president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

"On one side we have Patricia with her courage, strength and determination," Macri said. "On the other, a minister and candidate who is competing to be the worst minister in history," he continued, referring to the ruling coalition's candidate.

Massa is the candidate of the centre-left Peronist movement that has dominated Argentine politics for decades.

Fed-up voters see both Bullrich and Massa as representing governments who have proven unable to resolve the country's deep economic crisis.  

Carpentry student Santiago Costilla, 21, was in the crowd backing Bullrich.

"In the last few months, I have become a bit afraid of Milei. We need to see if she [Bullrich] wins, but everyone wants Milei and that scares me."

Unleashing torrents of swear words in his typical rock-star style, Milei closed his campaign on Wednesday, vowing to win in the first round.

"Give me the power so I can give it to you, so that we can be free, prosperous," the Buenos Aires lawmaker told a crowd of 15,000 in Buenos Aires.



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