Judge suspends foreign land sale article of Milei’s decree

An association of Malvinas veterans filed a lawsuit claiming the decree’s land liberalization provisions were unconstitutional

A federal judge has halted the government’s attempts to remove restrictions on foreign entities buying land in Argentina.

On Monday, Judge Ernesto Kreplak suspended an article of President Javier Milei’s mega-decree that ended limitations on land sales to foreign citizens and organizations in Argentina. 

Article 154 abolished Argentina’s 2011 “land law” (law 26.737), which capped the amount of land foreign citizens or organizations could purchase in Argentina and banned them from purchasing riverbeds. It also limited foreign land ownership in the country’s key agricultural areas to 1000 hectares. 

The La Plata chapter of the Center of Malvinas Islands Veterans (CECIM, by its Spanish initials) had filed a stay against the decree, arguing that the article endangered Argentina’s sovereignty. 

According to the CECIM court filing, the government’s decision would “liberate the land market, allowing it to be taken up by foreigners with a large landholder dynamic.” This, they argued, would endanger the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, affecting not only the availability of Argentine land but also its fresh water courses. The organization also questioned the decision to use a decree to annul a law that had been approved in Congress.  

In its presentation, the government asked that the request be thrown out, claiming that the CECIM had no right to request the suspension because the article did not affect the group’s “concrete interests.” It also claimed that the judiciary’s intervention was premature because it was too early to know whether the hazards CECIM warned about would occur. 

In his ruling, Kreplak disagreed with the government’s claim regarding CECIM’s right to protest the article, stating that the Supreme Court has said that “every citizen is allowed to defend the Constitution when they feel it is under threat.” 

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He added that the government failed to produce an adequate justification that would explain why the annulment of this particular law would help overcome the country’s social and economic problems. The judge also addressed the question of timing the government raised, saying that the point of injunctures is to prevent harm or damage from happening before it is too late. 

This is the third judicial ruling against parts of the massive Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) the government issued in December. The previous two court interventions were related to the bill’s proposed labor reform. 

The first was a writ filed by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT, by its Spanish initials), which requested a temporary stay on the reform. A court granted the injunction and deferred the final resolution to the Supreme Court, which will study the case in February. The second came last week, when a top labor court nixed six articles of said reform. This means that unless Congress green-lights the decree, those articles are permanently eliminated.


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