As police brutally repressed demonstrators protesting Jujuy’s June constitutional reform, the voice of a Buenos Aires City deputy rang across the airwaves, speaking out against Governor Gerardo Morales, the ruling administration, and the arrest of a fellow Frente de Izquierda (FIT) politician. That deputy was Myriam Bregman.
“Morales’s political model is plundering lithium and repression,” she said in a radio interview with AM750.
A lawyer by profession and a staunch activist since the 1990s, Bregman seems to be everywhere all at once. She is the first woman to lead a presidential ticket for the FIT coalition, which includes her Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) party, as well as the Partido Obrero, Izquierda Socialista, and the Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores. Her vice candidate, Nicolás del Caño, was a presidential candidate in 2015 and she was his running mate.
FIT obtained 1.8% nationwide in Sunday’s primaries — the only leftist party to surpass the mandated 1.5% to compete in October. Despite the low vote share, Bregman has a strong political presence and has also consistently critiqued far-right libertarian Javier Milei, the surprise runaway candidate in the election now considered a presidential frontrunner.
“We as women and dissidents [an Argentine term for LGBTQIA+ folk] need to wake up and return to the streets because there have been a lot of wrongs, attacks, and patriarchal reactions for us to stay silent,” Bregman told AM750 after Milei said he would call a referendum to end legal abortion on Tuesday. “We have to recover the wave that made us well-known around the world and you’ll see how these machitos shut their mouths.”
Ni Una Menos
Bregman is a forceful proponent of the country’s Ni Una Menos feminist movement. In line with the position of the Argentine left, she was strongly in favor of legalizing abortion years before the issue first reached the Congress floor in 2018.
The first policy proposal which appears on her 2023 platform is breaking with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although there is deep anti-IMF sentiment in the country and several politicians criticize the current deal with the lender, a total break without paying the debt hasn’t entered the mainstream as a policy proposal.
She has also advocated for nationalizing electricity, gas, and other utilities, vowed an end to large-scale mining, and argued that public officials should earn “the same as a teacher.”
Bregman’s strong public stances, often considered radical by mainstream politicians and media, have often led to online targeting and even fake news. In 2018, a Facebook post spread about her supposedly presenting a bill demanding to stop referring to plugs as “male” and “female,” alleging that she called the terms stigmatizing and binary.
Although no such bill was ever presented, she supports real demands from the trans-travesti community, such as implementation of the trans-travesti job quota law and reparations for the atrocities they suffered during the dictatorship.
Known as La Rusa, she was born in Timote, Buenos Aires province, in 1972. Two years earlier, the small rural settlement gained notoriety as the location of left-wing guerrilla group Montoneros’ first public act as an organization: executing former dictator Pedro Eugenio Aramburu in the basement of a ranch. According to a 2016 Anfibia profile, Bregman and her brother would dare each other to run into that basement and back. Only years later did she understand why that wasn’t allowed.
At 18 she moved to Buenos Aires to study law, co-founding the Centro de Profesionales por los Derechos Humanos (CeProDH) in 1997. As a lawyer, she specialized in representing workers who took over operations at factories that closed down during the 2001 socioeconomic crisis.
In 2003, Congress repealed the Punto Final and Obediencia Debida laws, which had halted dictatorship trials by establishing impunity for subordinates and barring further investigations. Bregman began her work trying repressors for dictatorship-era human rights abuses, becoming involved in the first reopened case: the trial against police commissioner Miguel Etchecolatz in 2006. Jorge Julio López, a retired construction worker and Peronist militant, was a key witness who incriminated Etchecolatz in June of that year. López was due in court on September 18, but disappeared before he could make it to the hearing. He was never seen again.
She has also been a plaintiff in several high-profile cases. The latest of these was against federal police spy Américo Balbuena, who was given a two-year suspended sentence for infiltrating a community media outlet.
Bregman first arrived in Congress as a deputy for Buenos Aires Province in 2015, taking over from Néstor Pitrola. Their party operates with a system of shifts, rotating their representatives every two years. She was later elected into the Buenos Aires City legislature in 2017 and has been a national deputy for the city since 2021.
“For the 30,000 disappeared and the victims of the Triple A,” she said when she was first sworn in. “For our comrade Jorge Julio López, for the struggle of women facing violence and oppression, ni una menos, and because our fight is to end the barbarity of capitalism in the entire world.”
Bregman lives in Buenos Aires City and her personal life remains intensely private. She has, however, told the press that she thinks “married” is an ugly word and takes pride in accompanying her daughter to school every day on the subway.