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ARGENTINA | 29-04-2024 15:30

Milei says he will keep state universities, attacks the opposition

President Javier Milei faced the biggest demonstration of his adminitration yet on April 23 as protesters took to the streets nationwide support of public universities.

President Javier Milei says he will not shut down state universities and has accused the opposition of playing politics with public institutions.

“We never thought about closing state universities, we never thought about depriving them of funds,” Milei said in a television interview.

“It’s called the straw man fallacy. Our opposition invented a lie and are attacking us based on that lie,” argued the far-right leader.

“Since taxpayers are financing public universities, we demand audits. There have been no audits for 10 years. Who doesn’t want their expenses to be audited? Thieves!” claimed Milei.

The remarks by Milei, 53, come five days after a huge nationwide march in defence of state educational institutions – the biggest protest to date against his government’s austerity measures.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Buenos Aires and major cities across the country, with students, graduates and university professors rallying. Unions, opposition parties and citizens in general also participated.

Milei, who took office last December vowing to slow inflation and reform the economy, accused his opponents of “taking a noble cause” like the defence of free education and “prostituting it.”

In another interview, he promised his government would stay the course and deliver reform.

Milei’s government has slashed funds for universities, giving them the same budget as last year, despite runaway inflation running at an annual 290 percent.

Universities say they are facing a budget emergency and may have to shut without greater support. 

Reacting to those complaints, Milei last week granted a 70-percent increase in “operational expense items” and a further 70-percent hike for May, in addition to a special one-off payment for university hospitals, Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni said last week.

Milei complained in his interviews that the march took place “despite the transfer of funds.”

It “was a repeat of [ex-economy minister Sergio] Massa’s fear campaign,” said the President referring to his rival in last year’s presidential run-off.

Milei also denounced the alleged involvement of “hired actors” to damage his government.

The march “politically is a big defeat for the opposition, and a great triumph for the ruling party,” he asserted.

The President went on to forecast that monthly inflation might fall below 10 percent in April, and said he is optimistic about the future of Argentina.

“After 100 years of populist destruction, we have carried out a 180-degree turn … We will come out of this and be okay”, he promised, referencing his economic reforms.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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