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Argentina's Milei Offers `Bread and Circus' to a Starving Population

Hundreds of thousands of Argentines have lost their jobs; productive state-sector infrastructure projects that employed thousands have been shut down. For the poor, food has become unaffordable. The salaries of teachers, healthcare workers and civil servants have been slashed, rendering them unable to keep up with inflation, so protests and strikes are multiplying. Milei’s Human Capital Ministry is withholding 5 million kilos of food, purchased by the previous government for distribution to community food kitchens that feed the poor, homeless and unemployed. Since Milei claims that the community kitchens are just tools for corruption and graft, he’s ordered the food stored in state warehouses, where it will soon rot. This, in a situation in which 3 out of 5 Argentines live in poverty.

Milei’s response to the misery he has deliberately created? On the evening of May 23, the lunatic President put on a performance at Buenos Aires’s huge Luna Park stadium, only describable as what the conservative daily La Nacion called a “two-hour long pagan mass celebrated by a President in ecstasy,” the Guardian reported today. Ostensibly called to celebrate the publication of his latest book, “Capitalism, Socialism and the Neoclassical Trap,” parts of which were plagiarized from other sources, this was, in fact, a carnival show in which Milei ran around the stage waving his arms. The hard-rock La Renga band played at eardrum-splitting volume, while Milei screamed its hit song “Panic Show,” whose lyrics proclaim that “I’m the king of a lost world. I’m the king and I will destroy you.” Of the few thousand who showed up, a large portion were adoring young men.

Respected commentator Victor Hugo Morales pointedly asked, on his La Mañana show today, “what kind of monster do you have to be to applaud those who think it’s all right that people are dying of hunger? What we have here is bread and circuses, from Rome where this phrase… was born. Bread and circuses have the purpose of hiding a reality that is there for all to see. The Roman circus…distracted [people] a little bit when the wheat didn’t arrive from Egypt,” Pagina 12 reported him saying.

The backdrop to this austerity-driven mental psychedelia is that Milei’s own government is crumbling. Forty officials have either resigned, or been forced out since December. His legislative agenda is in disarray, as the Senate isn’t likely to pass his deregulation and privatization-based “Bases” bill, and Milei has just announced that he’s going to have to do a major reshuffling of his cabinet. Even such stars as Luis Caputo, the Wall Street speculator who has served as Finance Minister, is likely to be dumped or reassigned, along with Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, who stands out for her complete lack of diplomatic skills. While the May 25 Independence Day was supposed to be a celebration of his legislative successes, they have yet to appear—and hopefully won’t.