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ARGENTINA | 22-12-2023 10:00

'Cacerolazo' protests against Milei’s reforms continue into second day

Demonstrators took to the streets across Argentina on Thursday night as protests against President Javier Milei’s reform plan to “deregulate” the economy continued into a second consecutive night.

Demonstrators took to the streets across Argentina on Thursday night as protests against President Javier Milei’s reform plan to “deregulate” the economy continued into a second consecutive night.

Traditional "cacerolazo" protests were heard throughout Buenos Aires City and its surroundings, with social media users posting video footage of pot-banging in Tandil, Chascomús, Rosario, Mendoza, San Carlos de Bariloche and other cities.

In the capital, demonstrators congregated at street corners, with hundreds congregating outside the National Congress at the intersection of Avenidas Rivadavia and Entre Ríos. City Police protected the entrance of the building but did not move to clear protesters.

Protests began shortly after 9pm in the City neighbourhoods of Núñez, Palermo, Flores,  Constitución, and others. Some avenues were blocked as emboldened demonstrators turned out in larger numbers but City Police generally did not intervene, despite the new rules of engagement outlined in the government’s new ‘anti-picket’ protocol.

Tensions did escalate in the central province of Córdoba, where demonstrators and security forces clashed on several occasions. Police there rushed locals and fired tear gas to break up street blockades, arresting at least five protesters.

Crowds in general were not as large as the previous night, when protests had erupted spontaneously minutes after Milei’s ‘Cadena Nacional’ national broadcast, in which the libertarian leader outlined his sweeping reform plan.

President Milei intends to eliminate, repeal or alter more than 300 rules via decree, while submitting a series of bills to Congress for further changes that require legislative approval.

Among the changes announced Wednesday are the elimination of a law regulating rent, as well as rules preventing the privatisation of state enterprises. 

Milei also announced a "modernisation of labour law to facilitate the process of creating real jobs" and a series of other deregulatory measures affecting tourism, satellite Internet services, pharmaceuticals, wine production and foreign trade.

Following the speech, thousands of people converged on the streets near the Congress to voice their discontent. Protesters banged pots and pans, climbed gates and waved the national flag.

Reaction to Milei's plans has been mixed but opposition is growing. Several high-profile politicians came out against the plans on Thursday and called on the president to submit his changes via Congress.

The decree must be assessed by a joint committee of lawmakers from both chambers of the legislature within 10 days. Constitutional law experts say the decree could only be overturned if rejected by both the lower house Chamber of Deputies and upper house Senate.

The CGT umbrella union grouping, one of Argentina’s most influential labour voices, has called a march for next Wednesday to demand the courts intervene.

An injunction against the presidential decree, which was published on Thursday morning, has already been filed. The Asociación Civil Observatorio del Derecho a la Ciudad has asked for it to be declared unconstitutional. Further legal challenges are expected.


– TIMES/NA/AFP
 

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