Less than 50 days after taking office, Argentina’s President Javier Milei is facing his first major test of strength.
In Argentina, a general strike against reforms by President Javier Milei’s new ultra-liberal government has paralyzed large parts of public life. According to media reports, thousands of people protested across the country on Wednesday. There was a rally in front of the National Congress in the capital Buenos Aires. “We will not take a step back,” said Héctor Daer, a leader of the CGT union. “The fatherland is not for sale.”
Other unions also joined the protest. Many areas such as transport, public administration and healthcare were affected. Flights were canceled. Banks were closed from midday and public transport was to be suspended until midnight. The last strike by the left-wing Peronist trade union federation was in May 2019.
The protest was directed, among other things, against a 30-measure emergency decree signed by Milei, which provides for the repeal of several laws regulating the labor and real estate markets. However, Argentine courts have already reversed part of the regulation.
Draft bill massively revised
The general strike also opposed a major reform package that the government submitted to Congress at the end of December and which envisaged the declaration of a “public emergency”. This would give the government extensive powers to decide on issues that can currently only be regulated by parliament. Already in December, numerous people took to the streets in several cities.
The controversial reform package is scheduled to be discussed in Congress on Thursday. Security Minister Patricia Bullrich described the trade unionists as “mafia-like”. They would resist the change that society had democratically decided on. “No strike can stop us, no threat can intimidate us,” she said. Since Milei’s party does not have a majority in parliament and in order to accommodate the opposition, the government has massively revised the original draft law in recent days. Over 140 articles of the law were deleted from the original version.
Argentina is in a serious economic crisis. The inflation rate is over 200 percent, and around 40 percent of people in the once rich country live below the poverty line. South America’s second largest economy suffers from a bloated state apparatus, low industrial productivity and a large shadow economy that deprives the state of a lot of tax revenue. The national currency, the peso, continues to lose value against the US dollar and the mountain of debt is constantly growing.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.