The new far-right president of Argentina, Javier Milei, has given his first national broadcast in an attempt to explain the scope of his Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU). The initiative seeks to sweep away laws such as rental laws, Gondola laws, national purchase laws, and supply laws, among many others, with a stroke of the pen, in a move that numerous analysts have called unconstitutional. Milei has so far announced a series of 30 repeals of current laws and new provisions—including the privatization of public companies, the transfer of the Aerolíneas Argentinas (the country’s public airline) share package, the arrival of public limited companies in football, and changes in prepaid health care and social programs—although he added that over 300 laws are going to be modified.
Accompanied by his ministers and Federico Sturzenegger—the former president of the Central Bank of Argentina and the apparent mastermind behind this decree—the president attempted to justify his need for neoliberal deregulation, using the “inheritance” he received from former President Alberto Fernández as his excuse. Following this announcement, made this Wednesday, December 20, public protests erupted all over the country, accompanied by the banging of empty pots and pans (cacerolazos), as well as a massive spontaneous protest that surrounded the Congress building in Buenos Aires.
Milei’s government also announced that state retaliation would be enacted against anyone who might take to the streets against the far-right government. The minister of human capital, Sandra Pettovello, threatened that those who participate in or promote street blockades or protests would stop receiving benefits from social programs.
The official stated in a video published through social media that social programs for unemployed or low-income families will be withdrawn in some cases. Programs such as the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) and food cards, among others, will be suspended for anyone who blocks traffic.
Multitudinario cacerolazo a esta hora en el Congreso en Buenos Aires. Miles en las calles de Argentina contra el Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia de shock neoliberal de Milei. Esto recién empieza. pic.twitter.com/IJyEeBmxTv
— Marco Teruggi (@Marco_Teruggi) December 21, 2023
Milei mentioned the repeal of the following laws, which was enacted through his bypassing of parliament, given that he does not have the required legislative majority:
- Rental law.
- Supply Law.
- Gondola law (price control).
- National Purchase law (promotion of local production).
- Price control law.
- The law of industrial production.
- Trade Promotion Law.
- Transformation of all state companies into public limited companies for subsequent privatization.
- Land Law.
- Repeal of the State companies regime.
- “Modernization” of the labor regime to facilitate the process of generating employment.
- Reform of the Customs Code to facilitate international trade.
- Modification of the Fire Management Law.
- Repeal of the obligations that sugar mills have in terms of production.
- Liberalization of the legal regime applicable to the wine sector.
- Repeal of the national mining trade system and the Mining Information Bank.
- Authorization for the transfer of the total or partial shareholding of Aerolíneas Argentinas, the state airline company.
- Implementation of the open skies policy.
- Modification of the Civil and Commercial Code “to guarantee that obligations contracted in foreign currency must be paid in the agreed upon currency,” explained the president.
- Modification of the regulatory framework of prepaid medicine and social work.
- Elimination of price restrictions on the prepaid industry.
- Incorporation of prepaid medicine companies into the social work infrastructure.
- Establishment of the electronic prescription to streamline the service and minimize costs.
- Modifications of the regime of pharmaceutical companies to promote competition and reduce costs.
- Modification of the Companies Law so that football clubs can become public limited companies if they so wish.
- Deregulation of satellite internet services, which opens the door to the company Starlink, owned by Elon Musk, with whom Milei had a “great conversation” just days ago.
- Deregulation of the tourism sector “to eliminate the monopoly of tourism agencies.”
- Incorporation of digital tools for automotive registration procedures.
Argentina. Milei lanza más de 300 medidas y las calles le responden. Ya hay alertas de inconstitucionalidad y se anticipan anuncios de gremios y sindicatos. pic.twitter.com/jTN3UAjNBZ
— Patricia Villegas Marin (@pvillegas_tlSUR) December 21, 2023
“Today is a historic day for our country,” Milei said at the beginning his speech. “After years of decline, we began the path of reconstruction.” Milei then announced his “shock” fiscal stabilization plan to rebuild “the worst inheritance in history,” in reference to the economic crisis currently being faced by Argentinians. It should be noted that this crisis is mostly a result of Mauricio Macri’s neoliberal rule, alongside what many consider terrible governance from the outgoing president, Alberto Fernández.
“This country requires an urgent change of course to avoid collapse,” said the far-right president, questioning the “expansion of the State” and the failure of the schemes that had been applied for decades. Milei insisted that his shock therapy seeks to “dismantle the oppressive legal framework that brought decadence” to the country, and would allow them to begin to walk the path to “becoming a world power again.” The president questioned the level of inflation, a “hidden tax” that he attributed to the state’s public spending, alongside regulations on commercial pricing and trade.
The emergency decree bypasses democratic parliamentary control, and has been described by some local media as the “mega decree.” It consists of around 600 articles, and includes a series of modifications to regulations in the labor and productive spheres, healthcare, and an attempted reform of the state, mainly in regards to contracting and public spending. Among the DNU’s main initiatives are changes to the labor system, the simplification of some bureaucratic procedures allegedly aiming at modernizing the state, and repealing rental laws, which Milei had already promised to eliminate.
Presidential decrees, according to Milei, are a constitutional tool of the executive that has the force of law. Although it is not necessary to pass through Congress, the DNU can be invalidated with the rejection of both chambers; that is, the Senate and Deputies. This legal tool was designed to be used only in special circumstances of “necessity and urgency.”
President Milei is also preparing a series of policies that do require the approval of the Legislative branch, so these will be presented as parliamentary bills, according to reports from local media. Among these issues, the president points to tax reform, modification of the retirement system, political reform, and other central measures that comprise his so-called “chainsaw plan.”
The president announced that he will call for a series of extraordinary sessions in Congress, which goes into recess during January, in order to discuss a package of laws that “will allow progress in the process of change that society chose, in a context of crisis that requires immediate actions,” the government remarked in a press release.
Tension and protests
Milei’s mandatory national broadcast on Wednesday occurred mere hours after the first mobilization of political, social, and human rights organizations in the country, commemorating the anniversary of the social outbreak of December 19 and 20, 2001, when former president Fernando De la Rúa abandoned the presidential palace on a helicopter after massive protests against his neoliberal policies.
In addition to being the first major protest against the neoliberal “paquetazo” that Milei’s far-right government will apply, this mobilization of the public seeks to challenge the new ‘anti-picketing’ protocol announced last week by the minister of security, Patricia Bullrich, designed to suppress protests.
The protest of this Wednesday was met by the state through an unusual operation, in which the four federal forces participated: Federal Police, National Gendarmerie, Naval Prefecture, and the Airport Security Police (PSA).
There were numerous moments of tension and clashes between protesters and the police, although the organizations were able to march to the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the headquarters of the government in Buenos Aires, where they read aloud a collective statement questioning Bullrich’s “adjustment” and the anti-picketing protocol itself for its criminalization of the protest.
(Alba Ciudad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/February 29, 2024