The Director’s Cut

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Hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets this week in the largest protests since President Javier Milei came to power, criticizing the libertarian leader’s funding cuts to the country’s public universities as part of a string of austerity measures, Reuters reported.

Students and professors gathered with union representatives and left-wing political parties on the streets of the capital, Buenos Aires, and other major cities on Tuesday to express their support for public education. Argentina’s universities have been a symbol of the nation’s social progress over the past decades. Now, they are facing an existential crisis.

President Milei, describing them as bastions of socialism, accused them of “brainwashing” the young and therefore would be subject to drastic budget cuts. In a move to reduce spending and stop deficit spending, Milei has been crusading against cultural centers and state-funded facilities.

Having received less than 10 percent of its total budget since last June, the prestigious University of Buenos Aires (UBA) barely has the money to pay its electricity bills. Last week, lights went off in some of its buildings.

This crisis could mean closure for the UBA, an institution with a rich history that has produced five Nobel Prize winners and 17 presidents. Without a recovery plan, the school said it could shut down in the coming months.

The UBA’s warning has shocked Argentines, who consider free university tuition a civil right.

The rallies were joined by conservative politicians, right-wing personalities, and private university directors, signaling an increasingly broad backlash against Milei’s policies.

Ahead of the protests, the government said it would provide $24.5 million to help universities cover maintenance costs, adding that “the discussion is settled.” University administrators insisted this was still not enough.

Argentina spends 4.6 percent of its gross domestic product on education. The country offers free higher education to locals and internationals alike, drawing students from across the Americas. Critics have said foreign students should start paying tuition fees.

Earlier this week, Milei insisted the sacrifice caused by austerity measures was worth it, announcing the nation’s first quarterly fiscal surplus in more than 15 years.

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