Miley downplays university budget crisis, but emergency is already being talked about

The University of Buenos Aires declared a state of budget emergency and warned it would close in the coming months, without a recovery plan. The Argentine president considers the controversy “normal”.

Argentina's libertarian president, Javier Milei, has sought to ease the budget crisis at public universities, deeming it normal, and is at odds with left-wing opponents whose influence on university campuses.

But the walls are turning black at the elitist University of Buenos Aires (UBA), with elevators and air conditioning in some buildings ceasing to work last week.

Professors teach classes to 200 people without microphones or projectors because the public university — among the top universities in Latin America — can't afford the electricity bill.

“This is an unimaginable crisis,” said Valeria Anon, a 50-year-old literature teacher, at a protest in downtown Buenos Aires on Tuesday that drew thousands of people. “It's very sad for my students and for me,” he added.

In its policy to achieve a budget surplus, Milei has cut public and cross-cutting spending, closed ministries, cut funding to cultural centers, laid off public servants and eliminated subsidies.

On Monday, Miley said Argentina had posted its first quarterly surplus since 2008.

“Even with the majority of politicians, trade unions, media and the majority of economic agents against us, we are making the impossible possible”, he said during a televised intervention.

A crowd of university students and professors walked out of UBA on Tuesday and joined thousands of other protesters in the center of the capital. Some private schools were closed in solidarity.

The protests spread to other Argentine cities.

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In a sign of a more widespread ideological war, trade unionists and supporters of left-wing parties also filled the streets.

As of July, when Argentina's budget year begins, the 200-year-old UBA has received only 8.9% of budget funding while facing 290% annual inflation.

The university has already said that it is facing great difficulty in keeping the lights on and guaranteeing basic services in the university hospitals.

After declaring a budget emergency, UBA warned last week that without a recovery plan, the studies of 380,000 students could be disrupted in the coming months.

It shocked Argentines who see free, quality university education as a natural right.

The UPA has a prestigious intellectual heritage, having already produced five Nobel Prizes and 17 presidents of Argentina.

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