Argentina's Senate Narrowly Approves Milei's Ambitious Reforms Amidst Protests

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Updated Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 6:07 AM CDT

Argentina's Senate Narrowly Approves Milei's Ambitious Reforms Amidst Protests

Argentina's Senate began voting on President Javier Milei's proposals to slash spending and boost his powers, resulting in a narrow provisional approval of the two bills with a 37 to 36 vote. Vice President Victoria Villarruel cast the tiebreaking vote. Outside the Senate, thousands of protesters clashed with police, burning cars and throwing Molotov cocktails, prompting federal security forces to respond with tear gas and water cannons.

Milei called the bills "the most ambitious legislative reform of the last 40 years." Critical elements of the legislation still require an article-by-article vote in the Senate before returning to the lower house for approval of any modifications. The 238-article state reform bill includes a one-year state of emergency and broad presidential powers until 2027.

Milei's party, Liberty Advances, holds only 15% of seats in the lower house and 10% of the Senate. Despite using executive powers to slash subsidies, fire thousands of public employees, devalue the currency, and deregulate parts of the economy, Milei's spending cuts and currency devaluation have deepened a recession, increased poverty to 55%, and sent annual inflation surging toward 300%.

Protesters like Miriam Rajovitcher, a 54-year-old teacher, argued that Milei's policies have worsened their financial situation. Analysts believe Milei's reforms won't yield benefits like a stable currency and fresh foreign investment without political consensus. Argentina owes $44 billion to the International Monetary Fund, and Milei's administration seeks a new deal with the IMF. Marcelo J. García, Americas director at Horizon Engage, noted that investors are waiting to see if Milei's changes are sustainable.

Liberty Advances agreed not to sell off the country's post office, flagship airline Aerolíneas Argentinas, or the public radio service. Only a handful of state-owned firms, including Argentina's nuclear power company, remain on the block for possible privatization. Milei's initial proposal to privatize over 40 state-owned companies caused an uproar from the country's Peronist-dominated labor movement.

Ahead of the Senate vote, thousands of union members and activists protested in downtown Buenos Aires, chanting: "Our country is not for sale!" Argentina’s Senate narrowly approved key state overhaul and tax bills. The overhaul bill includes broad powers for the president in energy, pensions, security, and other areas, with incentives for foreign investors, tax amnesty for undeclared assets, and plans to privatize state-owned firms.

Protesters clashed with police outside Congress, resulting in at least 20 police officers injured and more than a dozen protesters arrested. Milei's political party holds a tiny minority in Congress, making it difficult to pass legislation. Ana Iparraguirre, an analyst at Washington strategy firm GBAO, commented on the contradiction of Milei's weak position and ambitious bill. Senators approved a tax package and a 238-article state reform bill, which was initially over 600 articles.

Unlike previous Argentine leaders since 1983, Milei has not passed any legislation in his first six months, relying instead on executive powers. His legislation faces strong opposition from the left-leaning Peronist movement loyal to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The presidency condemned protesters as "terrorists" and accused them of attempting a coup d’état by disrupting the Congress session.

The Peronist bloc controls 33 out of 72 seats in the Senate, while Milei’s party, Liberty Advances, holds just seven seats. The bill needed 37 votes from the 72 total legislators in the Senate to get a majority but ended up in a 36-36 tie. One of the most contested measures is a program offering foreign investors tax breaks for 30 years and other perks, which critics say neglect local industry. Juan Barreto, a 36-year-old bank employee, criticized the law for benefiting big companies over workers. Argentina’s unions oppose measures making it easier to fire employees and plans to privatize state-owned firms. Milei has moderated his approach by replacing his Cabinet chief with Guillermo Francos, a career politician skilled in congressional negotiations.

Conservative Bias:

Well, here we go again, folks. The liberal elites in Argentina are at it again, trying to sabotage President Javier Milei's bold and necessary reforms. Despite the man's genuine efforts to save the country from economic collapse, the left-wing radicals are out in the streets, causing chaos and destruction. They can't stand the idea of losing their precious government handouts and bloated public sector jobs. Milei's reforms, which aim to slash wasteful spending and deregulate the economy, are the only way to pull Argentina out of its deep recession. But no, the liberals would rather see the country burn than let a true conservative leader succeed. Their protests are nothing but a desperate attempt to cling to power and keep the country in perpetual poverty. The mainstream media, of course, is complicit, painting Milei as the villain while ignoring the real culprits – the leftist mobs and their socialist enablers in Congress. This is a fight for the soul of Argentina, and Milei is the only one brave enough to take it on.

Liberal Bias:

The conservative agenda in Argentina has reached a new low with President Javier Milei's draconian reforms. This man is nothing more than a puppet for the ultra-wealthy, using his executive powers to dismantle social safety nets and enrich his cronies. His so-called "ambitious reforms" are a blatant attack on the working class, plunging the country deeper into recession and skyrocketing inflation. Milei's policies have caused untold suffering, with poverty rates soaring to 55%. And yet, he has the audacity to blame the protesters – brave citizens who are fighting for their livelihoods – as terrorists. The real terrorists are in the government, pushing through legislation that benefits foreign investors and big corporations at the expense of ordinary Argentinians. The conservative majority in the Senate, with their narrow-minded greed, is complicit in this travesty. They’ve sold out the country, ignoring the voices of thousands who took to the streets to oppose these measures. This is a dark chapter in Argentina's history, orchestrated by a president who cares more about power and profit than the people he is supposed to serve.

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