First protests against Milei’s austerity proposal in Argentina
Thousands of individuals have flocked to the streets of Buenos Aires in the first major demonstration against the economic shock policies of the new Argentine government. The fiscal measures announced by President Javier Milei include a severe devaluation of the currency and reductions in expenditure. In addition, he endorsed an economic reform decree that eliminates export restrictions.
The march is being led by a number of NGOs that represent those who are on the jobless. In an effort to prevent the demonstrators from blocking roadways, a significant number of law enforcement officers were sent out.
President Milei, who took office during the previous two weeks, has issued a strong threat of punishment against any factions who attempt to hinder his aims by disruptive rallies. He has issued this threat immediately after taking office. Individuals who obstructed streets on Monday were warned by the government that they could be disqualified from receiving state benefits.
In an interview with local radio, Eduardo Belliboni, leader of the Marxist protest organisation Polo Obrero, which initially called for the demonstration, described it as a “peaceful mobilisation.” “We desire to avoid any form of confrontation.” We firmly abstain from any form of confrontation.”
Over the course of a speech that was broadcast on both radio and television, President Milei provided specifics regarding over 300 such measures. In reference to the process of reconstruction, he referred to this as “just the first step.”
Deregulating mining and other industries, as well as privatising state-owned businesses, are the components that make up these policies. The law that regulates property rents was going to be repealed, according to the president’s announcement.
He elaborated on his aspirations for the measures: “The objective is to initiate the process of reconstructing our nation, reinstate individual liberty and self-governance, and commence the deconstruction of the extensive array of regulations that have impeded and stagnated economic expansion in our country.”
The government devalued its currency by over fifty percent against the U.S. dollar over the past week. The exchange rate was reduced from approximately 391 pesos to 800 pesos per US dollar. Since 2019, Argentina has maintained an artificially strong currency by rigorously regulating its movement.
This contributed to increased demand for the US dollar on the informal currency market, where the peso was traded at a significantly discounted rate compared to its official value. Additionally, Economy Minister Luis Caputo unveiled substantial reductions in public expenditures, such as a cessation of funding for advertising and significant government contracts, as well as a reduction in transport and petroleum subsidies.
Inflation in Argentina is at an all-time high, with prices having increased by over 150% over the course of the past year. In addition to this, it is faced with the challenge of limited financial reserves and significant government debt, while forty percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
The measures were described as “ambitious” by the International Monetary Fund, an institution that Argentina is indebted to for $44 billion (£35 billion). The Fund further expressed that the measures would contribute to the establishment of a favourable environment for the growth of the private sector.