Javier Milei and the Promise of a New Argentina (ALEJANDRO A. CHAFUEN, DECEMBER 15, 2023, Religion & Liberty)

Despite its name, derived from Argentum (silver), Argentina did not get rich owing to its mineral wealth. The country has little or no silver. Argentina began its road to prosperity only after General Justo José de Urquiza (1801–1870) defeated Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793–1877), the powerful governor of Buenos Aires, then and now the wealthiest province in the country, with the aid of Brazil and Uruguay. Urquiza became president in 1854 and adopted the Constitution inspired by the work of Juan Bautista Alberdi (1810–1884), a legal scholar and political theorist well-versed in economics. The 1853 Constitution created the legal framework that propelled Argentina’s economy.

Argentina endured ups and downs, but from the mid-19th century until the 1930s and ’40s, it experienced high economic growth. In fact, it overcame the Great Depression of 1930 faster than most other countries. However, the financial crisis of the 1930s created incentives for some of the world’s leading intellectual centers to explore new economic policies. Economists at the leading universities around the globe started devising various interventionist and statist schemes. The economic policies of the New Deal, Keynesianism, and fascist corporatism had a worldwide impact. Unfortunately, Argentina copied many of them. Its labor law was a copy of Mussolini’s Carta di Lavoro, for example. Although there have been periods of liberal economic policies during the past eight decades, the trend has continued toward increased interventionism, and the result has been dire poverty. Today, estimates from the Argentine Catholic University Center report that almost 45% of the population lives in poverty.