Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Demonstrations against the Argentine president's austerity reforms

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The austerity measures of the new Argentine president are contested by tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Agence France-Presse

Against “legalized looting” and the “chainsaw”, tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrated on Wednesday against the austerity reforms of the ultraliberal Argentine President Javier Milei, faced with a general strike and his first protest against #x27;magnitude, after only a month and a half in power.

The immense Parliament Square, in Buenos Aires, filled over the hours with thousands of demonstrators, at the call of the union giant CGT (7 million affiliates claimed), central proponist (close to the previous government) which was joined by other unions, radical left movements and social organizations.

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The demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square in Buenos Aires.

In the provinces, in Cordoba, Corrientes, La Rioja and Tucuman, among others, Argentine media reported demonstrations drawing thousands of people.

After a month and a half of Milei's presidency, an avalanche of deregulatory bills, a 54% devaluation and actual or planned austerity measures, we come to defend 40 years of democracy, defend the homeland, launched at the crowds the co-leader of the CGT Hector Daer.

Walking with a chainsaw is a one thing, governing is another [and requires] showing moderation.

A quote from Hector Daer, co-leader of the union giant CGT

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The homeland is not for sale, Here, there is no caste!, Eating is not a privilege, indicated banners and signs against the sound of firecrackers and large crates, under the gaze of a giant puppet in the likeness of Milei.

In the capital, transport, shops and banks were in service on Wednesday morning. The strike was scheduled to last from noon to midnight, but transport was scheduled to run until 7 p.m., bringing protesters in and out, before a total shutdown until midnight.

Air traffic was hit early on. Aerolineas Argentinas has announced the cancellation of 295 flights, including international ones, affecting more than 20,000 passengers, at a cost that will exceed $2.5 million.

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Hundreds of flights were canceled on Wednesday.

The country is open, the country does not stop!, trumpeted Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.

The mobilization is a minimum compared to the number of people who have decided to go to work, she assured, denouncing mafia unions, managers of poverty […] which resist change democratically decided by society .

While unions predicted greater social conflict around March, under the cumulative effect of austerity and #x27;inflation, Wednesday is a demonstration of force, of the power of the street, the idea is to show what social resistance will be in Milei, political scientist Ivan Schuliaquer analyzed for AFP.

For the executive, there is no alternative to reforms and austerity, to clear the accounts x27;a structurally indebted country (budget deficit at 2.9% of GDP in 2023, or 1 point beyond the target), and stabilize an economy strangled at 211% annual inflation.

He denounces unions on the wrong side of history and the fastest strike in history, announced at the end of December, 18 days after Milei's inauguration. Absolute nonsense, while the reforms follow the democratic game in Parliament.

There, the government is pushing to adopt its gigantic so-called reform package. omnibus law, but the balance of parliamentary forces – Milei's party, La Libertad Avanza, is only the third force in both chambers – forces the executive to compromise.

In the negotiations over the last few days with the opposition, he proposed withdrawing 141 of the 664 initial provisions. Privatizations (41 state-owned enterprises initially targeted), the indexation of pensions, the delegation of powers to the executive in the name of the economic emergency and the resources of the provinces are the main points friction.

The Chamber of Deputies was to examine a first version of the text on Thursday and the union giant CGT urged parliamentarians to decide whether they are on the side of the workers or whether they are betraying them.

On a legal level, the Necessity and Emergency Decree published in mid-December, which sets out the general framework for reforms, also encounters pitfalls: it has been the subject of more than 60 legal actions invoking its unconstitutionality.

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Protesters responded to the call from the union giant CGT.

Wednesday's mobilization was preceded by challenges to public order: the unions announced an uncontrollable, peaceful multitude, but reluctant to walk quietly on the sidewalk .

Ms. Bullrich promises to apply her anti-blockade protocol, which instructs federal forces to intervene in the event of a power outage. an axis of circulation.

If we resisted the dictatorship which was a daily exercise of terror, how could we not confront this clown Bullrich ? said ironically Rafael Klejzer, popular economy activist, who came to demonstrate against legalized plundering of the economy.

No clashes ;was reported after three hours of gathering, as the crowd slowly began to disperse at Parliament Square.

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