Massive protests in Argentina slam Milei’s education cuts | Politics News

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President Milei ran on a promise of taking a chainsaw to public spending, and continues to defend his approach.

Huge demonstrations have been held across Argentina to protest against education spending cuts.

Students and university professors were joined by the country’s powerful trade unions and opposition political parties as hundreds of thousands rallied on Tuesday against the effect of President Javier Milei’s radical austerity measures on public universities. It was one of the largest in a series of protests the South American nation has seen since the far-right president took power in December.

Aerial footage showed a sea of people occupying the centre of Bueno Aries for hours. Similar scenes were witnessed in several other cities, with organisers calling for a pushback against budget cuts that they say have put universities on the verge of closure.

The University of Buenos Aires claimed that more than 500,000 people took part in the protest in the capital alone.

Milei had brandished a chainsaw during his election campaign to symbolise his wish to decimate public spending and shrink the government in the face of serious economic challenges.

He has been shuttering ministries, defunding cultural centres, laying off state workers and cutting subsidies in a bid to right the economy.

On Monday, he defended his radical approach as he celebrated the country’s first quarterly fiscal surplus since 2008.

“We are making the impossible possible even with the majority of politics, unions, the media and most economic actors against us,” he declared.

Indoctrination

The education system in Argentina is considered to be one of the best in Latin America. The public universities are free of charge, with some 2.2 million people studying at the state-run institutions, including many from other countries in the region.

However, Milei has called them bastions of socialism in which students are “indoctrinated”. As part of its austerity policy, his government recently cut the budget of public universities by 71 percent. Meanwhile, Argentina is currently suffering some of the highest inflation rates in the world at nearly 290 percent.

“At the rate at which they are funding us, we can only function between two or three more months,” said Ricardo Gelpi, rector at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), which has produced Nobel Prize winners and many Argentinian presidents.

Universities have warned they may be forced to shut down and strand hundreds of thousands of students mid-degree, which has come as a shock in a country that considers free and quality university education a birthright.

“We are defending the public, open and free university, which is one of the great achievements of our people and which we will not give up,” said Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Porez Esquivel at the rally in front of the Casa Rosada, the seat of government. “We are defending our right to live in dignity.”

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