Argentina: Crisis for Milei as Austerity Bill Is Defeated 

By Otto Fors and R.F.Landers on February 7, 2024

photo: Enfoque Rojo

This week in Argentina, members of congress voted on the highly repressive Omnibus Bill proposed by far-right president Javier Milei. After a general strike and four days of massive mobilizations, the bill was withdrawn. It’s a huge victory for the working class and the movement in the streets.

The bill included a series of anti-worker and austerity measures, including massive privatizations, layoffs, and labor reforms. Much to the satisfaction of international capital — and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which supported the reforms — the bill would have opened the country’s resources up to imperialist plunder. It was a pillar of Milei’s reactionary libertarian agenda.

The proposed law was profoundly unpopular, but rather than accept these attacks, workers, combative sectors of trade unions, social organizations, neighborhood assemblies, and the organized Left took to the streets. On January 24, 1.5 million people took part in a national strike. Mobilizations continued in the streets and in front of the congress despite heavy police repression. This powerful movement, organized from below, helped delegitimize the bill and was instrumental in its defeat.

In congress, politicians of the Workers Left Front (FIT), including Myriam Bregman, Romina del Pla, Alejandro Vilca, Christian Castillo, and Nicolás del Caño also helped.

The bill’s withdrawal shows a lack of agreement among the different wings of the capitalist class. While there was agreement on making the working class pay for Argentina’s growing economic and social crises, the various bourgeois parties had differences regarding the distribution of the national budget, and which sectors would benefit from the government’s polices. The workers’ movement exploited that gap inside and outside the congress.

This setback opens up a crisis for Milei and the government, which took power less than two months ago. It also poses a problem for the president who is enthusiastic to burnish his right-wing reputation abroad: He was visiting Israel at the time that the bill was withdrawn, and promising to move Argentina’s embassy to Jerusalem. But the three-day trip to the Zionist state was marred with an embarrassing defeat at home.

While the bill’s withdrawal was a victory for the working class, the fight against the reactionary regime, capitalism, and imperialist plunder continues in Argentina. And the government may yet re-introduce some aspects of its reactionary bill. In this sense, Tuesday’s victory is just the first battle against the reactionary Milei regime.

Nonetheless, the bill’s defeat stands as a powerful example of how the working class — in unions, universities, neighborhood assemblies, and in congress — can fight and defeat the Right. By harnessing the power of self-organized struggle and by refusing to compromise, the mass movement in Argentina won. To continue to fight back the Right and protect the rights of workers and the oppressed, the mass movement must keep organizing from below, refusing to put their faith in the union bureaucracies and “lesser evil” politicians, which attempt to rein in the mobilizations.

Source: Left Voice