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Argentina’s Far-Right President is Once Again Advancing Legislative Attacks on Workers

After a setback in February, Javier Milei, the far-right president of Argentina, is once again pushing a set of laws that would hurt workers. The union bureaucracies and center left parties are containing the ability of the working class to fight back.

Samuel Karlin

May 4, 2024
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Photo credits: La Izquierda Diario

After an important defeat in February, Argentina’s far-right president, Javier Milei is once again advancing attacks on the country’s working class. After hours and hours of deliberation, which went until nearly nine in the morning on April 30, Argentina’s House of Deputies passed the Omnibus package — which must still be approved by the Senate before it becomes law.

This version of the Omnibus Law is the second edition of the law designed to subject Argentina to economic “shock therapy.” The new edition contains fewer attacks than the original law which failed to pass the House, but it is still a reactionary attack on the working class. The law was approved in the House of Deputies with 142 voting in favor, 106 against and 5 abstaining. It remains to be seen what will happen in the Senate.

The first attempt to pass the Omnibus Law was defeated in February, due in large part to mobilizations by neighborhood assemblies, combative unions, and organizations of the Left and social movements. The Left in Congress, revolutionary socialists like Myriam Bregman represented by the FIT-U, used its position to expose the anti-worker character of the Omnibus Law and to support the mobilizations against it.

Months later the law is once again advancing due in large part to the refusal of the CGT — the country’s largest federation of trade unions — to mobilize workers against the attacks. The CGT — in addition to not holding assemblies or promoting the organization of the working class and a plan of struggle until the law falls — negotiates behind closed doors with the government, preventing the workers’ strength from being expressed against the adjustment and the law in the streets and workplaces.  The CGT is more afraid of the mobilized workers than of the Milei government itself. Meanwhile, the centrist and center-left Personists who lead the union bureaucracies and social movements have sought to negotiate the terms of the attacks rather than wage a fight against it.

However, the passivity of the union bureaucracies and Peronism has not fully quelled the anger of the workers and oppressed communities that are under attack and who have been reeling from a series of economic shocks. Since Milei took office the economic outlook has worsened dramatically with 70 percent accumulated inflation, layoffs, and closures of small stores. The outrage at this increasing precarity and economic chaos has forced the CGT to at least call some mobilizations to maintain its legitimacy. This was also the case when they called a national strike in January – a strike which came with all sorts of limits to contain the class struggle. The CGT has called another national strike to take place on May 9, which is much too late to have the greatest impact on halting the passage of the bill. The Omnibus Law is being moved forward now and workers across Argentina are ready to fight for its defeat now.

The willingness of the Argentinian masses to fight back against these attacks was recently demonstrated on April 23 when 800,000 students, educators, and allies flooded the streets to protest Milei’s cuts to public universities. This came in the context of the government seeking to cut the money destined to pay the salaries of the teachers and close several universities. This combative energy of the students would be a great asset to the fight against the Omnibus Law.

In this context, Left Voice’s sister organization the PTS has been using their press, their members who have platforms in the House of Deputies, and their position in unions, social movements, and universities to denounce the attacks that Milei is advancing, and call all impacted sectors into the struggle against it. They’ve placed important emphasis on neighborhood assemblies which have emerged in response to these attacks. These assemblies are spaces where all sectors of society looking to fight – workers, students, unemployed, retirees, and more – come together to strategize how to fight Milei’s attacks. The assemblies unite and mobilize entire neighborhoods in the struggle against the Far Right and austerity.

The ongoing struggle in Argentina against Milei and the Omnibus bill is important for all workers and oppressed people around the world. Milei is advancing U.S. imperialist penetration in Latin America and developing the Far Right movement internationally. As Israel becomes increasingly isolated due to its genocide of Palestinians, Milei has become one of the Zionist state’s fiercest allies.

Milei wants to use Argentina as a laboratory for his far-right reaction, instead we should use it as a laboratory for fighting back the Far Right. We must support and learn from the example of the fight in Argentina

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Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

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