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Javier Milei And Latin America’s New Right

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The rise of Javier Milei came amid a period of serious crisis for Argentina, which in 2023 led the world in debts to the International Monetary Fund at a whopping $34 billion USD. Vowing to revive the economy and crack down on crime, Milei has unveiled an agenda for austerity, deregulation, and privatization of the economy that is already hitting working class Argentinians hard. After just one month in office, the poverty rate in Milei’s Argentina jumped from 49% in Dec. 2023 to 57% in Jan. 2024. The Real News reports from Buenos Aires shortly following Milei’s election, speaking directly with supporters of the new president and experts on Argentina’s right-wing to understand the factors that contributed to Milei’s election.

This story, with the support of the Bertha Foundation, is part of The Real News Network’s Workers of the World series, telling the stories of workers around the globe.

Producers: Belal Awad, Leo Erhardt, Cinthia Meijide
Videographer: Kevin Perelman
Video Editor: Leo Erhardt


Transcript

Narrator:

The far right has come to power in Argentina. Javier Milei, a self-described “anarcho-capitalist” and bizarre TV personality has received 55% of the vote, catching almost everyone by surprise.

Javier Milei:

When you have some morons trolling from a computer, you know what? While they watch the lady online I’m under her sheets.

Narrator:

With rising poverty and runaway inflation Argentina has voted for a radical change. And Milei’s campaign promises, represented by a chainsaw, are indeed radical: sweeping privatization and ruthless economic cuts.

Protester:

This knife is for Milei, so he can cut all he needs to cut.

Narrator:

His policies range from the extreme right to the simply bizarre, and include shutting down the central bank, dissolving 13 government ministries, replacing the Peso with the US Dollar and even a proposal to introduce “market mechanisms” to organ donations.

Javier Milei:

If they don’t stop overspending, a crisis will happen.

Narrator:

But how did such a wild and radical political message bring Milei to power? We met with Ernesto Bohoslavsky, a political analyst who has been studying the far right in Argentina.

Ernesto Bohoslavsky:

One of the great differences between these extreme right wing figures in Europe and the United States with respect to Latin America is that in general in Europe they are more linked to nationalist perspectives and protection of the internal market.
Le Pen in France, or I think for Trump in the United States. Defending national production against imports.
In Latin America’s case they are linked toideas that favor exactly the opposite. All favor deepening deregulation. Markets as free as possible, and abandon any pretense of an autonomous dimension to economic life.
In the second round, Milei received 55% of the vote. That’s millions of people.

There are many expectations and they contradict, inevitably. A part of his voters just wanted to have a non-Peronist government. They were exhausted after several years. And I think they are satisfied with the results.

Narrator:

Indeed, on the streets people were celebrating the end of the previous government, as much as welcoming the new one. The end of an era symbolized by so-called “Peronism”, a left wing political movement that has been in power for 16 of the last 20 years.

Initiated by Juan Perón, an Argentinian politician in the 1940s, the movement is based on support of labor movements and encourages a robust public sector to manage social issues such as inequality, healthcare and education. A position which Milei and the right wing of the country have viciously attacked.

Chants:

“Argentina without Cristina! Argentina without Cristina!”

Protester:

This is what people are celebrating. The people are tired of the same old governments. Because they know that they have always been corrupt. And what I like the most about Milei and his proposals is to go against the corruption and injustice of the politicians against the people.

Protester:

We are going to go through a time where things will be taken from us we’re going to have to pay for the train, and transportation is going to be more expensive. We are going to be more or less the same. But then we will finally start to feel that money will start to work for us.

Protester:

Seeing that having your own business and building it from scratch without external support is very difficult and that the state is a constant obstacle, so anything that can be done to reduce the size of the state and make it stop being an obstacle to the growth of entrepreneurs motivated me to join this party.

Protester:

You’re going to hear chants against the previous leaders all the time here, because everyone knows they are thieves.

Narrator:

These extreme privatization policies are mixed with an emergency crisis narrative in which taking extreme measures is sold as the only way out.

Ernesto Bohoslavsky:

A few days before the elections a very interesting poll was published asking:
‘Who are you going to vote for?’ And: ‘Which potential President are you afraid of?’
And something interesting is that 12% of Milei’s voters declared to be afraid of Milei’s potential presidency. We are talking about people who have some kind of awareness that the strict application of his policies is going to affect their quality of life.
I believe that some of his voters chose to ignore what was being said in the campaign.

Narrator:

High on the list of problems to solve for Milei’s political base, is the issue of criminality and perceived insecurity, many of his supporters told us that they don’t feel safe.

Protester:

As I am interested in security, it seems to me that one of the insignia of liberalism that should be defended is the civilian right to bear firearms.
Not 100% free, but today it’s 100% for the criminals.

Protester:

What I think needs to be fixed as an emergency – like right now- is public safety. Sadly here, the justice system and politics defend the victimizer not the victim and so, I believe that a strong hand is needed whoever commits it, should pay.

Narrator:

Milei’s supporters look to El Salvador’s “tough on crime” president Nayib Bukele, who since coming to power in 2019 has initiated highly controversial security laws, built huge “mega prisons” and incarcerated tens of thousands of prisoners.

Human Rights Watch has described El Salvador as having “systematically committed grave human rights violations” and even the US State Department has published concerns around “arbitrary killings, torture” and deadly prison conditions.

Protester:

It might sound a bit strong, but… what Bukele did in Salvador with respect to criminalization, I think we should do the same here.

Protester:

If Bukele achieved changing his country and making it what it is today, we can do it too. We simply need a strong hand. A strong hand and principles.

Narrator:

Despite the wave of popular support for Milei and his radical policies, almost immediately cracks have begun to appear. Three days into Milei’s new government the currency devalued by 118%, inflation exploded with no relief in sight. Though people voted for a radical change in the hope of economic stability, what they may have instead is more uncertainty.

On his tenth day in office, Milei signed a mega decree modifying 300 laws to deregulate the economy. Milei stated that if parliament rejects the decree, he will call for a plebiscite.

In response, people are already taking to the streets, even under threat of heavy-handed police repression and with some general strikes already planned, it seems that the working class is mobilizing.

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Australian National Review – North Korea Releases New Song Celebrating ‘friendly Father’ Kim Jong-Un

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Key Points
  • A song celebrating Kim Jong-un and his leadership was performed at a ceremony in Pyongyang on Tuesday.
  • Titled Friendly Father, the song declares that North Korean people believe in Kim and will follow him “united”.
  • The song and its accompanying music video follow recent attempts to promote Kim’s cult of personality.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been celebrated as the nation’s “friendly father” in a new song broadcast on state television this week.
The song was first performed live to celebrate the opening of a new 10,000-home development in Pyongyang on Tuesday, which Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said was finished “at the highest level” within a 14-month period.
The housing completion ceremony featured a large-scale concert with jet flyovers and a live performance by some of the nation’s top singers, who unveiled the new song in tribute to North Korea’s supreme leader.

Titled Friendly Father, the track praises Kim for delivering a “brighter future” for North Korea and declares that “the people believe and will follow united”. An accompanying music video released on Wednesday shows workers, defence personnel and everyday citizens cheering, dancing and punching the air as they proclaim their love for Kim.

A man in a black leather jacket and dark trousers salutes as he walks down a red carpet past saluting soldiers in uniform

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visiting the Kim Jong-il University of Military and Politics in Pyongyang, North Korea last week in a photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Credit: KCNA/EPA

The song is the latest in a string of recent attempts to bolster Kim’s cult of personality. Between 2022 and 2023, Kim approved a series of large-scale murals showing him shovelling dirt, visiting a medical factory and surrounded by plants in a greenhouse.

In July 2023, a series of paintings showing Kim engaged in activities such as riding a horse, meeting with school children and standing atop North Korea’s “holy” Mount Paektu were unveiled at an art exhibition. Months later, in November, reports claimed that a song titled the Hymn of General Kim Jong-un had become the official song at state events.

“Our general is the wisest of 10 million,” the hymn proclaims. “Our general cultivates the best paradise with the power of love for our everlasting happiness. His name is General Kim Jong-un!”

Kim arrived at the housing completion ceremony on Tuesday in an armoured limousine gifted to him by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He and his entourage of top officials sat atop a building during the ceremony, while the singers performed for him on an opposite rooftop.

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Australian National Review – Gympie Region People Set To Fight Massive Wind Farm Project At Curra Meeting – Www.cairnsnews.org

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PEOPLE in the Burnett, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast council areas are urged to attend a meeting at Curra this Saturday (April 20) to protest and plan a strategy against the Forest Wind Project which proposes to install 226 wind turbines between Maryborough and Gympie.

Meeting organisers say the turbines will run right through Australia’s largest exotic pine plantation.

The meeting is at the Curra Community Hall at 3pm. Guest speakers are Katy McCallum from the Kilkivan Action Group and Jim Willmott, chairman of Property Rights Australia.

“If you live in South Burnett, North Burnett, Bundy & Fraser Coast Regional Council areas it’s time to get informed and stand up,” organisers said. They are encouraged by the recent successful community opposition to a wind farm near Allora on the Southern Downs, plans for which have been dropped.

Wind Prospect Pty Ltd had been looking into the possible creation of a wind farm in the Goomburra district, east of Allora, but abandoned further action on the matter following a public meeting in Allora attended by about 300 people.

The Curra meeting organisers said the Forest Wind Project was just one of thousands of unreliable and environmentally unfriendly “renewable energy” projects bound for Queensland and Australia.

They say the Queensland Government, through their Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan 2023, have conspired with Powerlink to compulsorily acquire, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, many acres of prime productive land in South and North Burnett.

“The majority of our regions are to be dedicated as Green Zones and will be littered with millions of solar panels, thousands of wind turbines, thousands of kilometres of transmission lines and battery storage facilities right through the guts of our region,” they said.

“This threatens the existence of every person and property (both rural and residential) plus our remarkable landscape and unique wildlife. We ask everyone from Gympie to Maryborough, Tin Can Bay, Cooloola Cove, Poona, Bauple, Gunalda and Glenwood to attend this very important meeting.”

Organisers said people would learn what the state government’s so-called “vision for our future” really looks like and the consequences it holds for towns, farms, families, businesses, local economy, environment and wildlife.

Attendees are asked to bring their own chair and tea, coffee and cake will be available for purchase with all proceeds going towards helping to pay the guest speakers’ travel costs. A gold coin donation will be taken at the door to cover hall hire costs. Curra is on the Bruce Highway 15 minutes north of Gympie.

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Australian National Review – Congressman Introduces Bill To Stop Cobalt Mined By Child Exploitation And Forced Labor From Entering US Market

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Cobalt is a key natural resource used to power electric vehicles, solar panels, and other purportedly “green” products. Around 90 percent of it originates from

New legislation has been introduced to stop cobalt, which is extracted or processed with the use of child or forced labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from entering the U.S. market.

The legislation, HR 7891, was introduced on April 16 by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who is also the Chair of the House Global Human Rights Subcommittee.

Cobalt is a key natural resource used to power electric vehicles, solar panels, and other purportedly “green” products. Around 90 percent of it originates from CCP-owned mines in the DRC.

“The Communist Chinese government—which has gained almost full dominance of every single step of the cobalt supply chain—profits from child and forced labor used to extract cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo and power our so-called ‘green economy,’” according to an April 16 press release by Mr. Smith’s office.

Mr. Smith, who also serves as Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said that the United States must end child exploitation in mines and vastly reduce its dependency on the Chinese regime.

“The United States must stop aiding and abetting Communist China’s egregious exploitation of children—some as young as six years old—and start becoming less dependent on Xi Jinping’s brutal dictatorship,” said Mr. Smith.

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HR 7891—also known as the “Stop China’s Exploitation of Congolese Children and Adult Forced Labor through Cobalt Mining Act”—is specifically aimed at establishing the extent to which forced and child labor is utilized in the cobalt mining industry of the DRC, via a comprehensive investigation by the U.S. Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force.

Furthermore, it serves to implement new strategies to ensure that cobalt mined by forced labor does not enter the U.S. market.

Chairman Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) of the House Ways and Means Committee has offered extensive input on the proposed legislation. His committee, which has jurisdiction over it, is seeking to fast-track a vote on April 17.

“America has long fought to end child and adult forced labor, yet the cobalt vital to the batteries in our technology is unethically mined with the use of forced labor under Chinese control,” he said.

“This legislation is a critical step to blocking material tainted by these inhumane labor practices from entering this country. I am thankful to Rep. Chris Smith for introducing this legislation to stop these dangerous practices.”

The legislation was conceived partly from testimony provided at a congressional hearing in November last year, which Mr. Smith chaired. The hearing “exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) egregious exploitation of Congolese children and forced laborers, who toil in hazardous conditions to extract cobalt from unsafe mines including artisanal mines in the DRC,” according to the April 16 press release.
Previous testimony provided at a hearing by Fr. Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, a Catholic priest from the DRC, provided a basis for November’s hearing.

“The number of artisanal and small-scale mining sites from the Ituri region to Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be 1,000 and the number of artisanal miners to be 200,000 people, among them thousands of children and pregnant women,” stated Mr. Bihuzo.

“The artisanal mines “are often no more than narrow shafts dug into the ground, which is why children are recruited—and in many cases forced—to descend into them, using only their hands or rudimentary tools without any protective equipment, to extract cobalt and other minerals,” according to Mr. Smith.

The congressman went on to state that those benefiting most from cobalt mining are also those who choose to remain silent on the issue and are unwilling to face the inconvenient truth that the entire cobalt industry is built on a system of extortion, cruelty, and corruption.

Mr. Smith has been an outspoken critic of the CCP’s inhumane approach to global trade, having previously authored the China Trade Relations Act (HR638), which stipulates that China must end its abominable human rights violations if it wishes to enjoy normal trade relations with the United States.

The CCP has been utilizing slave and forced labor not only abroad but also within its own boundaries.

For decades, the CCP has been imprisoning ethnic minority groups such as Uyghur Muslims, as well as persecuting House Christians and Falun Gong practitioners for their faiths. Many of the imprisoned end up in labor camps, where they are forced to work under dire conditions in excess of 15 hours a day.

Many adherents of Falun Gong, a peaceful spiritual practice that promotes Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, have also been subjected to torture and live organ harvesting for the purposes of profit by the CCP.

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