In a huge display of dissent, tens of thousands of Argentinian workers brought downtown Buenos Aires to a standstill in a general strike against new President Javier Milei's far-right reforms.
The unprecedented strike came a mere 45 days after Milei’s shock win, making it the fastest action of its kind. Milei’s predecessor Alberto Fernández did not face any general strikes.
The workers took to the streets after a mobilization called by the opposition-aligned Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), the largest and most influential union in the country, and other unions.
The nationwide protest illustrated the urgency felt by workers as Milei – a self-declared ‘anarcho-capitalist’ – tries to push through radical economic and political changes reminiscent of "shock therapy" in Argentina.
“The first cut this government is making is to the workers - their labour reform aims to take away workers' rights" said Pablo Moyano, leader of the powerful truckers union, at the main union event in downtown Buenos Aires"
The workers rallied outside Argentina's Congress, denouncing Milei's plans to overhaul the government, privatize public industries, and cut spending. Many labeled him a "traitor," banging pots and carrying signs expressing frustration with soaring food prices that have left thousands hungry.
Milei's drastic economic measures, including a 54% devaluation of the peso, worsened the already staggering triple-digit inflation. The country ended 2023 with a record 211.4% inflation rate, surpassing even Venezuela.
His austerity measures, combined with immediate cuts to government spending, have triggered public outrage. The omnibus law, with over 500 articles, faces strong opposition as it heads to Congress, seeking to grant broad legislative powers to Milei's executive branch for an "emergency" year.
Despite criticism and comparisons to "mini-Trump," Milei maintains substantial public support. A recent survey indicates that 55% of respondents believe his reforms are necessary for economic improvement.
While Milei's supporters express optimism, opposition is evident, and a top court has already invalidated a key component of his "mega-decree." Some polls suggest that gradual policy changes may be more widely accepted, hinting at potential challenges ahead for Milei's ambitious reforms. The nation remains divided, unsure as it has not been for many years of what the future holds under Milei's leadership.