Argentina’s Senate Passes Milei’s Controversial Economic Reforms Amid Violent Protests

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Argentina’s Senate has narrowly passed President Javier Milei’s controversial economic reform package, amid violent clashes between protesters and riot police outside Congress in Buenos Aires. The reforms, which aim to address the country’s severe economic crisis, include declaring a state of economic emergency, cutting pensions, and reducing labor rights.

The vote was tied at 36-36 in the Senate, but Vice-President Victoria Villarruel broke the tie, allowing the preliminary approval of the package. “For those Argentines who suffer, who wait, who do not want to see their children leave the country… my vote is affirmative,” Villarruel stated.

As the Senate debated, demonstrators outside threw petrol bombs and stones, set cars alight, and clashed with police, resulting in injuries to dozens of people, including opposition MPs and police officers. At least 15 protesters were arrested.

President Milei, a right-wing economist elected amidst a deep economic crisis, has been pushing for these reforms to revive the economy. Argentina currently faces an annual inflation rate close to 300%, with over half of its population living in poverty. However, the measures are opposed by leftist parties, labor unions, and social organizations.

“The country is not for sale, the country is defended,” chanted protesters, expressing their belief that the reforms would hurt millions of Argentines. Fabio Nunez, a protesting lawyer, remarked, “We cannot believe that in Argentina we are discussing a law that will put us back 100 years.”

President Milei’s office issued a statement praising the security forces for their actions against what it described as “terrorists” attempting a coup d’état. “We are going to change Argentina, we are going to make it the most liberal country in the world,” Milei declared at a conference in Buenos Aires.

The 328-article bill will now be reviewed in detail before expected full approval on Thursday, after which it will return to the lower house for final approval. The package, initially passed by the lower house in April after significant amendments, is part of Milei’s broader agenda to drastically reduce public spending, which includes cutting the cabinet in half, slashing 50,000 public jobs, suspending new public works contracts, and removing fuel and transport subsidies.

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