Police and protesters clashed on Monday outside Argentina’s Congress as lawmakers debated a proposed pension overhaul that has angered retirees and prompted union leaders to wage a general strike.
Demonstrators threw bottles, rocks and gasoline bombs, while police in riot gear responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and jets of water. Authorities said 48 people had been arrested and 149 were injured, including police officers, retirees and journalists.
The measure, which already passed the Senate, is part of a series of economic changes pushed by the government of President Mauricio Macri to reduce the government’s high deficit. Union leaders and social activists complain the legislation would cut pension and retirement payments as well as aid for some poor families.
Argentina’s largest union began a 24-hour general strike at noon Monday to protest the bill, which was being debated in the lower Chamber of Deputies. Hundreds of airline flights were grounded in the Argentine capital due to the stoppage.
A debate on the measure was suspended last Thursday due to similar violent clashes.
The government later amended the proposal to include a bonus payment for some retirees. But critics said it was not enough.
“The bonus payment is a joke,” said Juan Carlos Schmid, a leader of the CGT union. The measure “is illegitimate and will cause a waterfall of lawsuits against it.”
Demonstrators in several neighborhoods of Buenos Aires banged on pots Monday night to protest the measure. The protests hold deep symbolism for Argentines, who recall the country’s worst economic crisis in 2001-2002, when pot-banging marches forced presidents from office.
Since taking office in 2015, Macri has vowed to rein in government spending and revive Argentina’s lagging economy. But his ordering of job cuts and the cutting of utility subsidies has fueled labor unrest.
In October, the conservative leader announced that he would seek more sweeping changes in tax, education and labor after his governing coalition scored a resounding victory in congressional elections.
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Last night, 9 to 10 PM, I noticed that familiar sound.Dec 19th, 2017 - 05:28 pm +8
It started slow then intensified some more.
I got out of the apt. and made two blocks just to check what it was all about.
I just went up to the group -about 50 of them, assorted age groups- and just asked them.
We are against the pension reform!! some of them answered.
I just looked around for a couple of minutes and went back home. Didn't get arrested or struck by a rock.
Enrique, I hope you now get the difference between valid and violent ways of protesting.
Just to clarify, I now live in a quite diverse neighborhood. Colegiales, close to the train station.
No any country can live by spending more money than it produces. Raising taxes is not the solution but to re-spend tax expenditure at a logical and affordable amount. After decades of right-wing populism, many Argentines believe that living for free, without working and subsidized is the normal way to live.Dec 19th, 2017 - 02:20 pm +5
The time has come to reduce the fiscal deficit. From now on, the work of this government will be to reduce the fiscal deficit.
I am happy to see that the current Argentine government has the guts to start reducing benefits and subsidies even at the cost of losing popularity. I just hope that Macri has the courage to maintain this direction of government for the next two years.
It is a question of survival of Argentina as a country.
I'm curious, what is going to happen to Macri's pension in all of this?Dec 19th, 2017 - 05:24 pm +5
What kind of a cut is he going to take?
What cut in pension are the legislators going to take?
Fiscal health has to be, I agree. What also must be is that if Macri and these legislators want to diminish retirees' futures, their future and their pensions have to be cut first, and not just with smoke and mirrors lying.
These politicians raiding the people's benefits and still stuffing their own wallets is absolutely not right.
There is great deal people in all western democracies need to do to correct this flaw.
This quote, by whoever, is wholly applicable to this situation:
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.
People are responsible for their governments. You have to watch the animals you elect to power every second. They can't wait for you to go to sleep.