Saturday, June 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 23-05-2024 01:53

Milei puts on a show at Luna Park as he launches new book

President Javier Milei sings, lectures and chats with aides as he delivers a peculiar show at Luna Park in Buenos Aires.

With a hoarse voice and a long black leather jacket, President Javier Milei dressed up as a rock star on Wednesday night and sang at the presentation of his latest book at the legendary Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires, which has hosted major sporting events and concerts by international stars.

“I wanted to do this because I wanted to sing,” he said before singing along with an amateur band on a single song: his warped version of ‘Panic show’ by Argentine rock trio La Renga.

After his performance, the economist gave a lengthy economics lecture based on his 13th book Capitalismo, socialismo y la trampa neoclásica (“Capitalism, Socialism and the Neoclassical Trap”). 

Milei gave a lesson in liberal economics stretching from ancient Egypt to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  In his speech, the President railed against socialism, defended monopolies, denied the existence of market failure and said that abortion was a “mechanism to massacre populations.”

The concert saw the return of his rock-star persona, a remnant of his youth playing in a Rolling Stones cover band, which won voters over during his election campaign.

But as the event went on, many of the 10,000 or so spectators drifted out until the hall was half-full.

“I’m here to support Javier in everything he does. I like his ideas, I like what he does.  He is sincere, he is transparent, he says what he thinks,” said Santiago Roldán, a 20-year-old supermarket employee. 


Fuerzas de cielo

In the vicinity of the stadium, there was plenty of merchandise. There were baseball caps from “Las fuerzas del cielo” (“The Forces of Heaven”), which the president frequently quotes, mugs bearing the inscription “Lágrimas de zurdos” (“Tears of lefties”) and even books by authors from the Austrian school of economics, the ideas of which Milei is a faithful disseminator.

The event had a similar feel to those that Milei has been staging since he entered the political arena in 2021: he calls them “recitals,” and usually opens by singing a song a cappella.

Milei “remains a character who likes to put on a show,” said political scientist Carlos Fara, stressing the La Libertad Avanza leader will “always fuel polarisation.”

“There is a permanent campaign logic. Communication in government is the same as communication in a campaign,” said Fara.

The presentation of the book came on the same day that the informal ‘blue’ dollar reached a new nominal record of 1,280 pesos, in a context of plummeting economic activity. Hours earlier, the INDEC national statistics bureau showed economic activity had slowed 8.4 percent year-on-year in March, amid the Milei government’s austerity drive.

Half the population lives in poverty and consumer prices have risen 290 percent over the past year.

Milei’s fans cheered his performance. With a nod to the recent diplomatic spat with Spain, which led to the withdrawal of Madrid’s ambassador in Buenos Aires, there were chants against Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez from the audience. 

Milei did not dwell on the subject, other than to joke that Foreign Minister Diana Mondino would seek overtime pay if he spoke again on the subject, and returned to his lessons in macroeconomic theory. 


‘Private event’

Milei’s book presentation, originally scheduled for May 12 at the famed Buenos Aires International Book Fair, was postponed after differences between the government and the organisers of the iconic event.

At the beginning of his speech, Milei thanked “the people of the Book Fair who, with their attempted boycott, gave us this party.”

Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni had clarified hours earlier that it would be “a private event supported by funds or the president’s personal assets.”

At the end of the show, with the stadium already half-empty after another economic talk between the President, his spokesman and liberal lawmaker José Luis Espert, Milei said goodbye, calling on his followers to support his “cultural battle” against the lefties.

As Milei left the stage, ‘Se viene el estallido’ (“(The explosion is coming”) a song by Argentine band Bersuit Vergarabat, a symbol of the protest rock of the 1990s that Milei appropriated for his campaign, rang out. 

Se viene el estallido, de mi guitarra, de tu gobierno también” (“The explosion is coming, from my guitar, from your government too”).

For Fara, maintaining the logic of the campaign during Milei’s Presidency could be a “conceptual error.”

“When everything is nice, these things seem anecdotal to people. The problem is when the results start not to be verified by reality. There comes a moment when all the bullets arrive together.”



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by Tomás Viola


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