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ARGENTINA | 27-12-2023 17:31

Protesters, summoned by CGT, protest against Milei's proposed reforms

Marching at the behest of labour unions, protesters demanded the courts intervene to invalidate President Javier Milei's mega-decree they say would carve away at worker and consumer protections.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Wednesday to protest a decree of sweeping economic reform and deregulation proposed by President Javier Milei. 

Marching at the behest of labour unions, the protesters demanded the courts intervene to invalidate the mega-decree they say would carve away at worker and consumer protections.

Congress is sitting in an extraordinary session this week, at the request of Milei – in office since December 10 – to consider the plan. 

The decree would change or scrap more than 350 economic regulations in a country accustomed to heavy government intervention in the market. 

Among others, it abolishes a price ceiling on rent, eliminates some worker protections and scraps laws shielding consumers from abusive price increases at a time annual inflation exceeds 160 percent and the poverty level has surpassed 40 percent. 

A number of civic groups on Saturday filed a judicial motion to have the decree declared unconstitutional. 

On Wednesday, protesters waved national flags and placards reading: "The homeland is not for sale."

"We do not question the legitimacy of President Milei, but we want him to respect the division of powers. Workers need to defend their rights when there is an unconstitutionality," construction union leader Gerardo Martínez told reporters at the march.

"We have come to say 'No' to the decree because it takes away one of the powers of the state: the Congress," said Adrián Grana, one of the demonstrators, who described the move as "a decalogue to favour the powerful to the detriment of the people."

Milei's "chainsaw plan" to cut state spending has triggered a series of street protests against the government.

Other aspects of the decree include an end to automatic pension increases, restrictions on the right to strike, and easing away from price caps for private health services.

It also terminates some 7,000 civil service contracts in a bid to cut state spending. 

Unless Congress scraps the plan in its entirety, the decree will enter into force on Friday. 

Milei's La Libertad Avanza party has 40 of the 257 deputies in Congress and seven of 72 senators. 

"The decree is destructive of all labour rights," said 45-year-old teacher Martin Lucero, who took part in the protest.  

"The Argentine people chose Milei as president of the nation, not as emperor," he added. 

The 53-year-old has targeted spending cuts equivalent to five percent of gross domestic product.

Shortly after taking office, his administration devalued Argentina's peso by more than 50 percent, and announced huge cuts in generous state subsidies of fuel and transport from January.

Milei has also announced a halt to all new public construction projects and a year-long suspension of state advertising.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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