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Argentina: second general strike against an imperturbable and self-satisfied Milei

Five months of government, two general strikes – the second on Thursday – almost daily demonstrations of varying scale: the streets in Argentina are raising their voices in front of the president. ultraliberal resident Javier Milei, still upright in his austerity program, with ambivalent first results.

No trains, no buses, no metro for 24 hours: the capital Buenos Aires should ring hollow on Thursday, without a large part of the 3 million people who pass through there every day, the majority by public transport. Some 400 flights will be canceled, affecting 70,000 passengers, according to the Latin American Air Transport Association.

The strike “against a brutal adjustment, in defense of labor rights, union , and at a decent salary”, launched by several unions including the powerful Peronist CGT, promises to be followed. Much more than that of January 24 (12 hours only), a semi-failure mocked by the government as the “fastest strike in history” because it was announced in December, 18 days after Milei's inauguration.

This time again, the presidency denounces a “strictly political” strike and unions “breaking records for speed and number of strikes”, facing a government “barely taking office”. Unions which go “against what people voted for five months ago”.

The political impact, however, could be less than the big marches for the defense of the university on April 24 (a million demonstrators across the country), the strongest mobilization hostile to Milei to date, and “a lesson for him: the first time he hit a wall in the “public opinion, because what was at stake was a collective, transversal good”, estimates political scientist Gabriel Vommaro.

– Cores of support –

But “for this reason, it should not be overinterpreted”, the analyst hastens to add to AFP. Because, elected as a “providential man who arrived to resolve problems that the previous elites had left lying around”, Milei “retains in public opinion cores of support unscathed, or at least fairly solid”.

In fact, despite a slight shift in April, several recent polls see Milei oscillating between 45 and 50% positive image – he was elected with 56%. A spectacular form of stability for a ruler who inflicted in a few months, between devaluation, freed prices, “cut-off” spending and public aid, “the greatest adjustment in the history of humanity”, as the anarcho-capitalist likes to remind us.

In addition, the corrosive Milei, “without changing his personality and his aggressive speech”, is experiencing “an apprenticeship political”, considers Rosendo Fraga, political scientist at the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

As such, the adoption at the end of April (at least in the Lower House) of its set of deregulatory reforms, an amended, narrowed, planed project, is “important”: it shows a Milei “more flexible in practice, relaxing the 'ideology', and which “can articulate a coalition to govern, despite its weak strength” of 37 deputies out of 257.

– Useless sacrifice or success ? –

Argentina: second general strike against an imperturbable and self-satisfied Milei

A protester blocked by security forces on the way to the residence of Argentine President Javier Milei, in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, May 7, 2024 © AFP – LUIS ROBAYO

Inflation decelerating, from 25% for December alone to 9% predicted for April, or worrying recession, with -3.2% decline in activity over one year ? “Historic feat” (dixit Milei) of a budget with a surplus in the first quarter, unprecedented since 2008, or a dark record of poverty (41.7% officially), at levels not seen since 2006 ?

Depending on whether they focus on balancing the accounts, reducing country risk, or on the micro-social impact, job losses, opposition and government send each other the clues in the face: “Useless sacrifice of the people”, denounces ex-president Cristina Kirchner. “Our plan is working,” Milei trumpets.

But economists, including liberals, are worried about “what’s next.”

“Milei has (…) only one variable in mind: inflation”, estimates Carlos Rodriguez, once close to the new president. “The adjustment plan is simply to pay nothing, with these first months a reduction in costs in all sectors. But I don't see a plan.”

Au -beyond the strike, which seems destined to in no way influence the policy followed, it is difficult to predict which, a recovery or fed up, will be felt first.

“The limit to adjustment is imposed by those who are adjusted and their capacity for resistance”, concedes Carlos Heller, a former banker and opposition MP.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116