Protests Rock Argentina Over Milei Economic Reforms

Protests Rock Argentina Over Milei Economic Reforms

Noriko Watanabe and Chika Mori

Modern Tokyo Times

President Javier Milei of Argentina took office in late December 2023.

He pledged before taking power that he would implement “shock treatment” concerning the dire economic situation in Argentina. Inflation was over 140%.

Milei said, “There is no money.” Hence, his warnings of economic “shock treatment” appealed to many people. Accordingly, he was elected the new leader of this nation despite being a political outsider.

The BBC reported, “He said he would undo “decades of decadence” with deep spending cuts, designed to slash huge public debts and drive down inflation, which is now higher than 140%.”

Left-wing political parties, trade unions, and organizations that support the marginalized all oppose the methods of Milei. Hence, once a major economic package was planned to implement economic “shock treatment,” it was bound to generate hostility.

The motion was tied at 36-36 in the Senate. Thus, Vice-President Victoria Villarruel held the casting vote to decide on its passing (it still needs to be passed to get the final go-ahead).

Villaruel said, “For those Argentines who suffer, who wait, who do not want to see their children leave the country… my vote is affirmative.” 

Milei said, “We are going to change Argentina, we are going to make it the most liberal country in the world.” 

Protests erupted in Buenos Aires. This resulted in the police using water cannons, teargas, and other forms of measures to stem more militant protesters.

The Guardian reports, “Unlike previous Argentinian leaders since the return of democracy in 1983, Milei has failed to pass a single piece of legislation during his first six months in office. Instead, the populist outsider has relied on executive powers to slash state spending and sweep away economic restrictions.”

Cecilia Moreau (Peronist lawmaker) said, “Today, the government is declaring war on the Argentine people.”

Lee Jay Walker (Modern Tokyo Times analyst) says, “Milei would argue that the political elites have misruled Argentina for a long time. Hence, this nation owes a staggering $44 billion to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and foreign investors. Therefore, what is socialist about this – and where is the bright future?”

Political elites before Milei generated this debt. Hence, even if his economic “shock treatment” is despised – he can only implement this because of the failure of past administrations who failed the people of Argentina.

AP News reports, “The legislation delegates broad powers to the president in energy, pensions, security and other areas and includes several measures seen as controversial, including a generous incentive scheme for foreign investors, tax amnesty for those with undeclared assets and plans to privatize some of Argentina’s state-owned firms.”

Argentina is heading for a rocky economic and political period – it remains to be seen if Milei will prevail.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News – Sawako Utsumi and Modern Tokyo Times artist Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News