Argentina: Javier Milei Signs Executive Order Weakening or Ending 350 Socialist Policies

Argentine President Javier Milei (C) delivered his speech to the nation from the Casa Rosa
Handout / Argentina's Presidency Press Office/AFP

Argentine President Javier Milei announced during a national broadcast on Wednesday night the signing of a Necessity and Urgency Decree (DNU), a form of executive order, that would modify or overturn an estimated 350 federal economic policies.

Milei’s executive order targeted nearly every aspect of the Argentine economy – including imports, price controls, health care, sports federations, landlord and tenant policies, and the yerba mate industry – in what he described as an attempt to impose a “shock stabilization plan” to prevent a financial catastrophe. Argentina is facing the worst economic crisis of its history as a result of decades of socialist policies, lavish government spending, and corruption, fueling skyrocketing rates of poverty, joblessness, and inflation. The nation’s inflation rate reached 160 percent in the days after Milei’s December 10 inauguration.

Milei, a libertarian economist, decisively won the November 19 presidential election against socialist former Economy Minister Sergio Massa on a platform promising widespread economic deregulation, a drastic reduction in the size of government, and a foreign policy centered around alliances with America and Israel, rather than China and Russia as previous administrations had pursued.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 12: Presidential candidate for Union Por La Patria Sergio Massa speaks during the presidential debate ahead of the runoff on November 12, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinians will go to polls for the runoff between Javier Milei and Sergio Massa on November 19. (Photo by Luis Robayo - Pool/Getty Images) // Candidates Milei and Massa Face to Face in the Last Presidential Debate Ahead of Runoff BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 12: Presidential candidate for La Libertad Avanza Javier Milei speaks during the presidential debate ahead of the runoff on November 12, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinians will go to polls for the runoff between Javier Milei and Sergio Massa on November 19. (Photo by Luis Robayo - Pool/Getty Images)

Then-presidential candidates Javier Milei and Sergio Massa (Luis Robayo – Pool/Getty Images)

“Today is a historic day for our country. After decades of failures, impoverishment, decadence, and anomie, today we formally begin the path to reconstruction,” Milei announced in his address on Tuesday:

“We designed a shock stabilization plan that includes a fiscal adjustment plan, an exchange policy that adjusted the exchange rate to the market value and a monetary policy that includes the destruction of the central bank,” he announced, flanked by his cabinet of ministers. “We are making our maximum effort to try to diminish the tragic effects of what could be the worst crisis of our history, the product of decades of governments who insisted on using failed recipes.”

“As we have been saying for months, the problem is not the chef, it’s the recipe,” he continued. “Those ideas that failed in Argentina are the same ideas that have failed far and wide on the planet. Where they were intended, they have failed economically, socially, culturally, and, on top of that, they have cost the lives of millions of human beings.”

“This doctrine that some call leftist, socialism, fascism, communism – and which we like to catalog as collectivism – is a way of thinking that dilutes the individual in favor of the power of the state,” Milei explained, adding,

It is the basic foundation of the caste system. It is a doctrine of thinking that is partially based on the idea that the reason of the state is more important than the individuals that comprise the nation. That the individual is only recognized if he submits to the state, and therefore citizens owe veneration to its [the state’s] representatives the political caste.

Milei asserted that politicians are “not just not God – they are the cause of our problems,” then listed 30 of the hundreds of reforms inside of the 83-page DNU.

The executive order proclaims an economic “emergency” in the country to officially begin on Tuesday and end on December 31, 2025. As a result of that emergency, it enacted sweeping changes to Argentine law.

Milei eliminated multiple laws that allow the state to control the prices of various goods and services. The “Rental Law,” which greatly limited what kind of lease contracts landlords and tenants can sign, no longer exists. The Argentine outlet Infobae noted that rents in Argentina increased by 300 percent year-on-year in 2023 under the Rental Law, despite socialist lawmakers insisting it would keep rents low.

The executive order also eliminated price control laws for artisanal products, regulations governing the purchasing of rural land, and the federal government’s Price Observatory, “to avoid the persecution of companies.” Customs regulations controlling imports and exports were also severely reduced and a national registry of importers and exporters will cease to exist, as the DNU noted Argentina was one of the few countries in the world to have such a registry. Milei’s executive order addressed Internet access, as well, greatly deregulating telecommunications.

The regulations targeted some of Argentina’s largest industries, including winemaking – freed from a restrictive state regulation system – and the cultivation of yerba mate, a plant used to make a hot herbal drink popular in Argentina. The order called for the modernization of the National Institute of Yerba Mate to limit the use of quality control regulations to suppress the industry. It made similar revisions to policies for mining, the airline industry, and sugar. On the subject of health care, the executive order dramatically deregulates the drug industry, allowing Argentines greater access to generic drugs and expanding the use of electronic prescriptions “to achieve greater agility in the industry and minimize costs.”

The changes announced on Tuesday are the second wave of reforms in Milei’s ten days in office. On December 12, Milei’s Economy Minister Luis Caputo announced that the government would dramatically devalue the Argentine peso, down from 366 pesos per U.S. dollar to 800 pesos. The move, he announced, was necessary to undo the artificial overvaluing of the peso under the socialist prior administration. To aid Argentine families, however, Caputo also raised the amount of money given to families in Argentina’s child tax credit to bring it closer in line with inflation, though not totally up to date.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.