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The Myth of the ‘Golden Age’: Unpacking Javier Milei’s Claims about Early 20th Century Argentina

SPEAKER: Lucas Poy, VU Amsterdam


DATE: 5 April

TIME: 15.30-17.00, followed by drinks and snacks


His campaign videos, featuring a chainsaw as a symbol of his promise to cut state expenses, captured global attention. Since his inauguration as Argentina’s president in December 2023, Javier Milei has lived up to his promise, implementing neoliberal reforms, layoffs, and privatizations. Venturing into historical comparisons, Milei claimed that he wants to restore Argentina to its past glory, asserting that it was ‘the richest country in the world’ in the early 20th century. He refers to a period when Argentina was governed by an oligarchic regime that combined liberal economic policies with fraudulent electoral practices. The claim that Argentina experienced a ‘golden age’ under such liberal governments remains more than dubious. The prosperity was certainly not experienced by the mass of workers who tirelessly contributed to the export boom in rural settings, nor by those who worked in factories and dwelled in tenement houses in the big cities. It was even less golden for the indigenous population, systematically displaced and subjected to violence. In this lecture, Dr. Lucas Poy provides an overview of Argentina during the years of the ‘orden conservador’ (1880-1916), focusing on the main weaknesses of the export boom, the working and living conditions of the working class, and their struggles for labour and democratic rights.


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