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Buenos Aires Under Fire As Police Clash With Protesters

Argentina’s Capital Buenos Aires Under Fire As Police Clash With Protesters

In a scene reminiscent of a battlefield, riot police in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, unleashed tear gas and water cannons to disperse a wave of demonstrators outside Congress. The fierce clashes came on the same day that lawmakers in Brazil’s Senate granted initial approval to budget-slashing reforms.

Protesters, who firmly believe that these measures will inflict severe harm on millions of Argentines, responded by hurling petrol bombs and stones, even setting a car ablaze.

Violence and Tension Grip Buenos Aires 

Local media described the tumultuous scene as a chaotic battleground, with numerous casualties reported. The reform package, spearheaded by right-wing President Javier Milei, aims to resuscitate the country’s faltering economy.

This comprehensive plan encompasses declaring a state of economic emergency, slashing pensions, and diluting labor rights. Naturally, these measures have been met with strong opposition from leftist political parties, labor unions, and social organizations.

The Senate initially reached a deadlock, with a tied vote of 36-36, but Vice President Victoria Villarruel stepped in and broke the tie, leading to the preliminary passing of the motion.

In a poignant statement following her decision, she declared, “For those Argentines who suffer, who wait, who do not want to see their children leave the country… my vote is affirmative.” The 328-article bill will now undergo a meticulous review before its anticipated full approval on Thursday. Subsequently, it will return to the lower house for the final go-ahead.

Protesters and Police Clash Outside Congress

Prior to the bill’s passage in the Senate, protesters rallied with spirited chants, proclaiming, “The country is not for sale, the country is defended.” Banners displayed messages questioning how a head of state could harbor hatred toward the state.

Tensions escalated earlier in the day when demonstrators attempted to breach the fences guarding Congress, leading to scuffles and clashes with officers who responded with pepper spray and rocks.

Reports indicate that dozens of demonstrators and a handful of MPs required medical attention, with at least five opposition MPs being hospitalized.

Additionally, over 20 police officers sustained injuries, and authorities confirmed the arrest of 15 individuals. Amid the chaos, two vehicles, including one belonging to a news organization, were set ablaze.

Fabio Nunez, a protesting lawyer, expressed disbelief, stating, “We cannot believe that in Argentina we are discussing a law that will put us back 100 years.”

Fury and Flames Engulf the Capital

President Milei’s office released a statement expressing gratitude toward the security forces for quelling what they described as “terrorists” attempting to carry out a coup d’état.

Speaking at a conference in Buenos Aires, Milei fervently declared, “We are going to change Argentina; we are going to make it the most liberal country in the world.”

This highly-divisive bill had previously secured approval from the lower house in April, albeit after significant amendments were made. President Milei, who assumed office in 2023, vowed to wield a chainsaw against public spending, a symbolic gesture he even brandished during his campaign.

Since then, he has implemented drastic measures, including halving the cabinet, eliminating 50,000 public jobs, suspending new public works contracts, and removing fuel and transport subsidies, all while annual inflation soared to nearly 300%.

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