Milei’s controversial mega-decree officially takes effect

The executive order, which radically reshapes the country’s economy, will be enforced for a minimum of two months

President Javier Milei’s controversial executive order reshaping Argentina socially, economically, and politically went into effect on Friday. 

Last week, Milei released an 86-page document known as a decree of necessity and urgency (DNU, by its Spanish acronym) that contained 366 articles. The DNU declared a financial, fiscal, and administrative “emergency” in Argentina while mandating widescale deregulation, the repeal of hundreds of laws protecting Argentine workers, and limitations on benefits such as severance pay and maternity leave.

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While DNUs are constitutionally required to go through Congress, they are binding until they’re overturned. DNUs only require a simple majority in one of the congressional chambers to become law, although the judiciary has the authority to reject them as well. 

Before Congress can consider a DNU, it must first pass through the Bicameral Legislative Procedure Comission, a group of eight senators and eight deputies in charge of analyzing whether the executive branch’s order qualifies as a decree of “necessity” and “urgency.” The body must then submit an opinion with the signatures of an absolute majority to both chambers within 10 days. 

The commission’s members include the senators Juan Carlos Pagotto (La Libertad Avanza), María Teresa González (Union por la Patria), Mariano Recalde (UxP), Anabel Fernández Sagasti (UxP), Silvia Sapag (UxP), Luis Juez (Propuesta Republicana), Víctor Zimmerman (Unión Cívica Radical), Carlos Espínola (Unidad Federal), and Juan Carlos Romero (Cambio Federal), as well as deputies Oscar Zago (LLA), Lisandro Almirón (LLA), Máximo Kirchner, Ramiro Gutiérrez (UxP), Hernán Lombardi (PRO), Francisco Monti (UCR), and Nicolás Massot (Cambio Federal).

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Another hurdle awaits Milei’s order after the commission’s ruling: Because his administration has called for extraordinary congressional sessions, the DNU can’t be voted on in a plenary session of either chamber of Congress until March 1. In the interim, however, its measures will be enforced, meaning that Argentines will experience the order’s more than 300 reforms for a minimum of two months.

On Wednesday, Milei introduced a 351-page bill with the aim of “[freeing] the productive forces of the nation from the shackles of the oppressive state in order to once again become a world power.” The legislation would give the president the power to bypass Congress in order to legislate and sweeping authority to privatize public companies. 

The announcement was met with nationwide cacerolazos, and Argentina’s trade union federation, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT, by its Spanish acronym), has since called for a national strike on January 24.


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