Milei’s ‘omnibus bill’ met with more nationwide cacerolazos

The massive bill is an unprecedented attempt to overhaul the Argentine state and would give the president extraordinary powers

President Javier Milei’s presenting a sweeping “omnibus bill” was met with spontaneous protests all over the country on Wednesday night. Neighbors from Buenos Aires City gathered with pots and pans in front of the Congress building or banged them from their homes in a continuation of last week’s peaceful demonstrations over the presidential mega-decree.

On Wednesday afternoon, Milei’s team filed the 351-page-long legislative proposal in Congress. If approved, the bill would give Milei extraordinary legislative powers for two years and would modify or create hundreds of laws.

Proposals within its 664 articles include a sweeping privatization of public companies; making foreigners pay for public education in national universities; allowing foreign armed forces to enter Argentine territory for training and other activities; and a change to a parental welfare law that clashes with the country’s abortion law. It would also establish permits for gatherings of three people or more in public spaces, in an attempt to dissuade rallies and demonstrations.

Protesters blocked the intersection of Rivadavia and Entre Ríos avenues, in front of Congress. Photo: Télam

Non-affiliated protesters started gathering in a cacerolazo — as this type of demonstration is known in Spanish — at around 9 p.m. in front of the Congress building. Some of them sat in the street, blocking the road at the intersection of Rivadavia and Entre Ríos avenues. As in other cacerolazos, there were calls for a general strike and chants of que se vayan todos — “out with all of them,” a phrase with roots in the nationwide protests during the 2001 socioeconomic crisis.

Around 70 policemen arrived an hour after the demonstration started to apply Security Minister Patricia Bullrich’s anti-protest protocol, which strictly bans roadblocks. They surrounded protesters so that they would stay on the sidewalk.

“Milei’s bill has no precedent,” Sofía, one of the protesters, told news agency Télam, adding that she hoped Congress wouldn’t support it. “It’s terribly authoritarian, it doesn’t respect our conquered rights in the least.”

“Omnibus bill = dictatorship,” reads a sign seen during the cacerolazo. Photo: Télam

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Last week, Milei issued a 366-article decree of “necessity and urgency” that completely deregulated Argentina’s economy, eliminating consumer and worker protections, and modifying or derogating legislation such as the rental law, the land protection law that banned foreigners from buying large portions of land, and the fire law, which protected land from deforestation.

After the decree, known as DNU in Spanish, was published in the Official Bulletin last week, three days of spontaneous cacerolazos ensued in cities all over the country, with hundreds of people meeting at the Congress building. It also sparked a massive union and social movements march on Wednesday and dozens of protective writs and lawsuits requesting the DNU be declared unconstitutional.

At least six people were arrested during the massive police operation on Wednesday including Martín Brunas, a journalist and member of the Autonomous branch of the Argentine Workers Central (CTA in Spanish). According to the CTA-A, “it was a completely arbitrary arrest,” since he was only recording the police operation, they said.

A policeman was hit by a bus while standing at the edge of the sidewalk to keep protesters from blocking Avenida Corrientes. However, the streets ended up being blocked by the officers themselves to keep protesters out.

You may also be interested in: Milei says he’ll launch a referendum if Congress rejects his mega-decree

— with information from Télam.


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