President Alberto Fernández on Wednesday denounced the La Libertad Avanza (LLA) presidential and mayoral candidates Javier Milei and Ramiro Marra for fuelling the run on the currency and taking the dollar into four digits.
Fernández described their conduct as “a severe affront to the democratic system ... and of an unprecedented institutional gravity for the Republic” in his lawsuit presented via the lawyer José Ubeira.
The news comes Argentina’s peso dropped to a record low on the parallel ‘blue dollar’ market to 1,000 per US dollar after holding at 880 before the weekend. Greenbacks trade at 365 pesos on the official market but access to foreign currency is extremely limited with Central Bank reserves running dangerously low.
Milei has vowed to dollarise Argentina’s economy if he becomes president. He is the frontrunner going into the October 22 election after emerging as the candidate with the most votes in the August 13 primaries.
He has previously stated that the weaker the peso, the easier it will be to dollarise the nation’s economy.
Fernández’s report, which also extends to La Libertad Avanza Buenos Aires Province legislative candidate Agustín Romo, as well as Milei and Marra, invokes Article 211 of the Criminal Code which contemplates prison sentences of between two and six years for alarmism “instilling public fear.”
The case has been filed as No. 3604/2023 and has fallen to Federal Judge María Servini.
“This financial movement induced by the premeditated and tendentious activity of these persons I impute has caused an incalculable damage to the country, not only in economic terms but mainly at the level of public confidence,” affirmed the president in his complaint, highlighting Milei’s press statements advising against the renewal of fixed-term bank deposits in pesos.
“Never in pesos, never in pesos. The peso is a currency emitted by Argentine politicians which is not even worth excrement," the libertarian presidential candidate declared on Monday.
The following day Marra published on his X (former Twitter) social network account: ‘Today more than ever: DON'T SAVE IN PESOS. Look after your money, it cost you so much to earn it.’
The sentiment was backed up by Romo on the same social network: “The cynical political accomplices will tell you that you don’t have to buy dollars. You must do quite the contrary. These degenerates will wipe out all your salary because they don’t care a bit.”
According to President Fernández, Argentina’s “population is terrorised by the real possibility that our currency, the peso, does not maintain its value and continue being the national coinage.”
The president’s complaint recognises the upward trend of the dollar but warns: “There had not been any movements as abrupt as indisputably caused by these public expressions. My current role as President of the Nation does not allow me to use terminology improper to my status but what the money markets of the Argentine Republic have been experiencing since Monday is nothing more or less than a run.”
The Peronist leader commented that the role of La Libertad Avanza’s candidates in society should lead to “a greater commitment to the defence of monetary sovereignty being expected of them,” but that they have acted “with the indisputably clear aim of obtaining the result they finally did – terrify the Argentine people in terms of monetary policy in the hope of obtaining as a consequence of their actions a devaluation of the national currency.”
Earlier in the day Milei had been denounced by lawyer Valeria Carreras for having provoked the run on the currency. Her criminal lawsuit asked that “it be investigated whether the statements of Milei constitute an incitement to violence (in this case economic) or a financial crime under the Criminal Code.”
Filed as Case No. 3958/2023, her lawsuit has fallen to the jurisdiction of Federal Judge Julián Ercolini, with Eduardo Taiano as prosecutor. The charges carry a prison sentence of between one and four years with a disqualification from public office of up to five years.
Including opposition presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich among her witnesses, as well as economists at odds with Milei, Carreras did not limit her charges to this week’s money movements.
“Milei and La Libertad Avanza have come announcing the destruction of everything we Argentines have guaranteed in the National Constitutión from repealing worker rights to burying free public education ... to which they also add the destruction of the currency, a sovereign symbol,” she alleged. “His statements and their media diffusion only agitate a delicate national and international economic moment.”
"The statements of the presidential candidate are doubtless of an institutional gravity but have also triggered the economic indicators in the last 48 hours, especially the value of the dollar in all its variants, making everything go up," added Carreras, who has previously represented the families of the victims of the submarine ARA San Juan, which imploded while on manoeuvres in 2017 and was not recovered.