Milei’s Laws: A Step Forward or Backward for Argentina

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A car on fire during a protest near Argentina’s Congress in Buenos Aires on June 12, 2024 on the day of the debate between the senators on Milei’s bill for economic reforms. (Mariana Nedelcu/Reuters)

Argentina has been facing chaotic riots in its capital Buenos Aires just this past week. The Vice President of Argentina, Victoria Villarruel, has spoken out. She comments on the contrast of the matter, saying: “Today, there are two Argentinas. A violent Argentina that sets a car on fire, throws rocks and debates the exercise of democracy, and another Argentina with workers waiting with great pain and sacrifice for the change that they voted for.” 

What exactly is prompting the riots in Argentina right now? The President of Argentina Javier Milei proposed a plan for economic reform in Argentina due to the struggle the country’s economy has been facing. According to Reuters, the country had a poverty rate of 57% and an inflation rate of over 250% at the start of 2024. President Javier Milei aims to relieve some of this. 

According to CNBC, Milei hopes to improve the economy through privatizing some of the country’s state entities, incentivizing foreign investors through tax breaks, and weakening labor rights through his new set of reforms. It would also declare a one year state of emergency. Milei is a self declared anarcho-capitalist who was elected during an economic crisis in Argentina. He believes that the changes he is making to the economy of Argentina are only going to help its people in the long term. He has stated that his reforms are “the most ambitious legislative reforms of the last 40 years.”

This bill was argued back and forth on, and it barely made it through. According to Al Jazeera, the senate was split right down the middle with 36 members for it and 36 members against it. That was until the Vice President Victoria Villarruel, the head of the chamber, voted in favor of it, making the vote 37 to 36. It took the chamber a long time to come to this conclusion with there being an all-night marathon sitting.

Many citizens of Argentina are very against the bill being passed as they feel it would harm them. The left wing heavily opposed this bill as they worried it would negatively impact workers through the lack of labor laws. Senator Mariano Recalde spoke out saying that the reforms would “take us back to the last century when the employee had no labour rights” feeling that it would reverse progress that Argentina has achieved.

Many people believe that through the passing of the economic reforms being proposed by the President, the actual lives of citizens are not being prioritized over the economy. Many people are already struggling due to the economy of Argentina being in a bad place, but they feel that these types of actions taken by the government are only hurting them more.

This is what has prompted the protests and riots at the capital. Fabio Nunez, a protestor, stated that “We cannot believe that in Argentina we are discussing a law that will put us back 100 years.” The BBC has stated that protestors tried to go toward Congress through fences and they were throwing rocks. Two vehicles were also set on fire as a result of the protests. This prompted the Police to use tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to make them stop. Many people had to get medical attention and 15 people were arrested. There are mixed opinions on the bill being passed and it is undetermined what the future of Argentina’s economy or political climate will look like. 

Written by Sirisha Kunamneni

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