A video of Argentina’s president-elect Javier Milei has gone viral, sparking concerns about the leader’s environmental beliefs.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, Argentina elected Milei, a former economic advisor, as president over his opponent Sergio Massa, the country’s economy minister.
Now, many Argentinians are fearful for the environment due to the new leader’s rejection of fact-based climate science.
In a viral video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, by user Jamie Bartlett (@JamieJBartlett), Milei can be heard threatening in Spanish to abolish crucial government departments, which included the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, as the English captioning noted.
“You might not realize just how radical the new Argentine president Javier Milei actually is,” Bartlett captioned the clip.
You might not realise just how radical the new Argentine president Javier Milei actually is. His plans for government departments: pic.twitter.com/GMyIoRAQO6— Jamie Bartlett (@JamieJBartlett) November 20, 2023
After listing the 11 departments he wanted to cut, Milei said, “The thievery of politics is over. Long live d*** liberty!”
“I’m sure this’ll end well,” one Twitter user replied to the clip, adding an eye-rolling emoji.
Amid Argentina’s worst economic crisis in 20 years, Milei won 56% of the presidential vote with his promise to combat skyrocketing inflation and high poverty rates, per the Washington Post. Unfortunately, his plans to stimulate the economy spell bad news for the environment.
As an ardent supporter of privatizing natural resources and slashing public funding, as a news article in Nature reported, the far-right leader hopes to expand mining and agriculture operations in the country.
And with pervasive droughts and heat waves plaguing the country in recent years, Milei’s anti-environmental policies will put further strain on Argentina’s fragile ecosystems. Plus, mining for minerals such as lithium often occurs near Indigenous communities, harming native people, plants, and animals, desecrating sacred sites, and even leading to violent conflicts.
According to a study in Nature Sustainability, 54% of mining operations worldwide are built directly on or near Indigenous lands. And in Jujuy, a province in Argentina, severe droughts exacerbated by lithium mining are displacing communities and exhausting water sources.
“Currently, there are no obstacles to preventing lithium extraction companies from advancing without respecting either the license granted by the government or international regulations,” Alejo Di Risio, of Ecosocial Justice Action Collective, told The Guardian.
To make matters worse, Milei, who many have nicknamed the “Argentine Trump,” said companies should have free rein to pollute rivers as much as they want, according to the translation of a report by Télam Digital.
“There is a cyclical behavior of temperatures in the Earth’s history. Thus, all these policies blaming humans for climate change are false and only serve to raise funds to finance lazy socialists,” Milei told The Guardian.
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