by Valen Iricibar and Facundo Iglesia
President Alberto Fernández filed a judicial complaint against La Libertad Avanza (LLA) presidential candidate Javier Milei for “public intimidation” on Wednesday.
The legal complaint also included Buenos Aires mayoral candidate Ramiro Marra and Buenos Aires deputy candidate Agustín Romo. All three expressly advised Argentines against saving in pesos — the president’s complaint claimed they instilled fear and led to a run on the currency.
“As a direct and inexorable consequence of that set of public declarations and the ensuing fear, the value of [the dollar] rose shockingly and in less than a day [went] from [AR$870] to [AR$ 1,010],” said the legal complaint. “This financial activity induced by premeditated and tendentious activities of these people I am indicting, have caused incalculable harm to the country not just in economic terms but principally in terms of public confidence.”
The president cited Article 211 of the country’s Penal Code as the basis for his legal complaint, which establishes prison sentences of between two to six years for those who “instill a public fear […] raises alarm, […] or uses other material means normally suitable for producing such effects.”
In an interview on Radio Mitre on Monday morning, the libertarian economist talked about his dollarization proposal — which consultants have previously told the Herald is exerting further pressure on the local currency — and advised those who have made fixed deposits in pesos not to renew them. Milei qualified the peso as “worth less than excrement” with the informal exchange rate known as “blue dollar” rising steeply in response. The president described the statements as “based on a fundamental misconception.”
On Tuesday, Marra echoed the leader of his political space in a post on X (formerly Twitter) as the blue dollar broke the thousand-peso mark, saying “Today more than ever: DO NOT SAVE IN PESOS. Take care of your money, it took a lot of effort for you to earn it.”
“This is not about isolated incidents by people without institutional responsibility […] on the contrary, these were carried out by individuals who are either serving or are currently running for public office,” said Fernández.
Milei’s comments in particular were the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum, with multiple bank associations describing them as unfounded and calling for “democratic responsibility.”
“We urge the candidates to go through the last stretch of the electoral campaign with the responsibility, professionalism, and vocation of service that the role to which they aspire requires,” they concluded. “This is the best way to strengthen democracy and achieve the well-being of the Argentine people.”
‘They should look at themselves in the mirror’
Milei, Marra, Romo, and LLA’s candidate for Buenos Aires governor Carolina Píparo gave a press conference on Wednesday afternoon denying the accusations. “Kirchnerism is trying to ban the most voted political force in the August elections because they are afraid of being left out,” Milei said. “We’re going to give them a beating on election day.”
With 14 TV cameras pointing at him in the headquarters of Marra’s broker in Puerto Madero, Milei held the government responsible for the run on the currency. “They should look at themselves in the mirror,” he said.
Milei went on to defend his dollarization proposal, and compared two alternatives — Ecuador’s, which took nine months to dollarize, and El Salvador, which did it in two years. “It’s more likely that it will be more similar to Ecuador’s.”
The candidate also accused banks of “oozing socialism” because of the banking associations’ communiqué. “Is there a thought police, maybe?” he asked.