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Argentina erupts in mass protests against President Milei's reforms

Argentina erupts in mass protests against President Milei's reforms Protests in Argentina (Getty Images)

Thousands of people in Argentina were protesting on Wednesday against President Javier Milei's economic reforms that include plans to reduce workers' rights. The main protest was in Buenos Aires, near the parliament, where politicians discussed future cuts to labor rights and reductions in government sectors to address high inflation and poverty levels, according to BBC and The Guardian.

Protesters held signs saying "Eating is not a privilege," "The homeland is not for sale," and "Stop robbing retirees," facing off with riot police.

Argentina erupts in mass protests against President Milei's reformsProtests in Argentina (Getty Images)

The CGT, a national trade union with seven million members, has been joined by smaller unions and civic groups, all determined to protect workers' rights. Many protesters feel the president is neglecting the poor and "selling" the country.

"None of the laws they are trying to pass in Congress are to help the working class, who are the ones taking the hit and the one that is here today," said one of the protestors.

Argentina erupts in mass protests against President Milei's reformsProtests in Argentina (Getty Images)

The 12-hour strike disrupted public transport and flights. Aerolineas Argentinas canceled about 300 flights, which affected almost 20,000 passengers.

Government position

Milei has introduced a lot of controversial changes in Argentina. His decisions and new laws suggest privatizations, cutting government spending, a significant increase of presidential powers, and reducing workers' rights and the right to protest. 9 out of 18 government departments, including those managing education, the environment, women, gender, and diversity, have been closed. The country's currency, the peso, lost more than half of its value compared to the dollar.

Milei says these changes will save Argentina from the economic problems he thinks his predecessors caused. But the economy has suffered even more since he became president. Inflation was 25.5% last month, up from 12.8% in November. The yearly inflation rate is now 211.4%, the highest it has been in 30 years.

However, Economy Minister Luis Caputo warned that Argentina's economy would be worse off than before for a few months, particularly in terms of inflation.

The government, led by Milei, remains firm despite the opposition. The proposed changes are seen as potentially harming the vulnerable and increasing poverty, according to opposition parties and unions. Despite facing setbacks, Milei's administration remains determined to implement its agenda, emphasizing the need for drastic measures to address Argentina's economic crisis.

Argentina's new president

President Milei, who took office in December 2023, promised to deregulate, make deep spending cuts, and devalue the currency. Milei refers to the reforms as "economic shock therapy" to address the country's severe crisis. The politician describes himself as an "anarcho-capitalist," advocating for the non-intervention of the state in economic activities and pushing for significant spending cuts.

Read more about the new Argentina president in an article on RBC-Ukraine.