Argentinians Rise Against Milei’s Harsh Austerity Measures Amidst Crackdown Threats

In a bold defiance of President Javier Milei’s threats to crack down on civil dissent, thousands of Argentinians took to the streets of Buenos Aires, protesting against the right-wing leader’s severe austerity measures. Despite facing potential arrests and cuts to social benefits, the people’s spirit remained unbroken, echoing through the night with chants and the clatter of pots and pans.

The protests erupted in response to Milei’s announcement of draconian economic decrees on Wednesday, targeting worker’s rights and public spending. Residents of Buenos Aires expressed their dissent from their balconies before flooding the streets and converging on the National Congress. Their chants branded Milei as the face of dictatorship, and their signs rejected his hike in essential services like electricity, gas, and transportation.

Milei’s latest decree is a clear intensification of his austerity policy in a country already grappling with a 40% poverty rate. The measures lay the groundwork for privatizing state-owned companies, deregulating mining, and allowing foreign companies to dominate the housing and land market, stripping workers of fundamental rights, including maternity leave.

Critics like former presidential candidate Myriam Bregman of the progressive Workers’ Left Front are calling out Milei for bypassing Congress and violating the Argentinian Constitution. Hector Daer, secretary of the General Confederation of Labor, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the threat to democratic order and the division of powers.

This isn’t just a reaction to new policies; it’s also a commemoration of the past. The protesters are paying tribute to the victims of former President Fernando de la Rúa’s brutal suppression of mass protests on December 20, 2001, a dark chapter in Argentina’s history. Police in riot gear were present, yet the sheer scale of the mobilization made it impossible for security forces to contain the protest.

These demonstrations are more than just an outcry against economic measures; they’re a fight for democratic values and social rights. Argentinians are making it clear: their problem isn’t the protests, but Milei’s policies that have slashed their purchasing power and threatened their livelihoods. As retirees like Betina Sanchís voice their concerns, the message to Milei’s administration is clear: the people will not be silenced in the face of unjust austerity.