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Argentine leftwing and labor groups stage national strike against Milei's reforms

Thursday, January 25th 2024 - 15:12 UTC
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“I am a fan of Huracán, but they want to come for the big [football] clubs,” explained Daer about Milei's most encompassing DNU that targets virtually everything “I am a fan of Huracán, but they want to come for the big [football] clubs,” explained Daer about Milei's most encompassing DNU that targets virtually everything

Argentine labor unions staged a relatively successful strike and demonstration Wednesday to protest against President Javier Milei's emergency decree (DNU) already in force plus the so-called Omnibus Law bill to curb public spending which would defund numerous activities currently running on State allowances. It was the first such measure since May 29, 2019, under then-President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

In addition to the General Labor Confederation (CGT), other leftwing parties as well as social and human rights organizations were behind Wednesday's rallies nationwide and also before Argentine embassies. The size of the crowd gathered in front of Congress in Buenos Aires varied from tens to hundreds of thousands, depending on the outlet.

Milei seeks to deregulate the economy and dismantle the structure of the State as a financier with a bottomless wallet. The CGT called for Wednesday's protests only 18 days after Milei's inauguration.

No serious incidents were reported as Security Minister Patricia Bullrich implemented her anti-picketing protocol which bans demonstrators from cutting off traffic.

Under Alberto Fernández (2019-2023), no strikes were staged despite the country's economic performance resulting in 211.4% annual inflation last year, the highest in the world, surpassing that of Lebanon and Venezuela.

CGT Joint Secretary General Héctor Dáer said the unions and social organizations will continue fighting in Argentina until Milei's reformist initiatives fall. “We are going to continue the struggle until the DNU falls and they reject the omnibus law,” he stressed. “We are not going to take even one step back,” he insisted. “The homeland is not for sale,” he added.

Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof and Fernández's last Cabinet Chief and vice-presidential candidate Agustín Rossi were among the attendees.

Daer also assured lawmakers handling the “Omnibus Law” bill that “we are here to support you so that you support the people” and therefore “no deputy can pretend to be distracted from what we are discussing.” He also claimed that Milei sought to take away the possibility of trade union action at a time of “great inequality” because “those who have more and earn more want more privileges.” Milei wants to “sell all the State companies”, criminalize protests to “put everyone in jail”, goes “against culture” and science, and aims at “privatizing sports”, according to Daer.

“I am a fan of Huracán, but they want to come for the big clubs, for Boca, River, Independiente, Racing... Know that the [football] clubs must also be defended,” said Daer.

They are also “coming for science and they do not care about giving away the companies that are the fruit of Argentine scientists; they do not care about education; they do not care about the colleagues of public employees or teachers.”

Together with fellow CGT JSG Pablo Moyano, they criticized Milei's drive toward removing the mandatory collection of union fees from workers' wages which would now require express consent from the employee and double severance payments, in addition to other labor issues affected by the President's measures.

Moyano said that Milei's measures had been written by the country's biggest fortunes and insisted that Congress not “betray the workers” and the “doctrine of Peronism,” which is “to defend the workers, those who have the least and the pensioners. In his words, ”a Peronist cannot vote for this DNU, which goes against the workers and national sovereignty. He also proposed taxing the wealthiest instead of increasing the burden on people who live on their salaries.

Then he recalled that President Milei said that Economy Minister Luis Toto Caputo should be carried on everyone's shoulders to thank him for December's inflation figures.“ Caputo is Macri's partner, who leaked US$ 45 billion and ”should be parading in court giving explanations,“ the labor unionist insisted.

”And I say to him before thousands of comrades that if he carries out these economic measures of hunger, adjustment, and layoffs, the workers, the retired, and the most humble are going to carry the minister on their shoulders but to throw him into the Riachuelo,” a highly contaminated water course marking the southern limits of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

Categories: Economy, Politics, Argentina.

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