Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

General Strike: Argentina Rises Up Against Milei’s Shock Therapy

More than 1.5 million workers walked off the job today in a massive general strike in Argentina against President Javier Milei. But more strikes and demonstrations are needed to defeat his brutal and authoritarian neoliberal reform program.

James Dennis Hoff

January 24, 2024
Facebook Twitter Share
Tens of thousands gathered at the congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina to protest against President Javier Milei's anti-worker measures on January 24, 2024.

On Wednesday, hundreds of unions and hundreds of thousands of workers, students, unemployed, and retired people took to the streets in cities across Argentina and the world to protest the neoliberal President Javier Milei’s emergency measures and reactionary, anti-worker omnibus bill, which is currently being debated and amended in congress. In Buenos Aires in particular, massive crowds (upwards of one hundred thousand people) composed of labor unions as well as independent blocs of combative unionists, left organizations, and organizations of the social movements descended on the Plaza De Los Dos Congresos and surrounding neighborhoods, completely shutting down the city. In addition, protests were held or scheduled to be held in front of Argentinian embassies in cities across the world including Paris, Berlin, and New York. 

Led by the large umbrella union CGT (General Confederation of Labor) and the CTA (Argentinian Workers’ Central Union) the proposal for a one-day general strike was called last month as part of a broader nationwide movement against Milei’s neoliberal agenda. But today’s strike is just the beginning, and the Argentinian Left, including the Partido de los Trabajadores (Party of Socialist Workers, PTS) —  the sister party of Left Voice — are calling for more than just a single day of work stoppage and are organizing to indefinitely extend and expand the strike until all of Milei’s proposals and austerity measures are fully defeated. 

As PTS leader Christian Castillo explained: “To defeat the government’s attack — Milei’s so-called “chainsaw” plan — we need to plan the struggle ahead. A half-day strike and a march, no matter how massive, is not enough.” 

At the center of the strikers’ demands is an end to the controversial omnibus bill that was proposed to Congress just days after Milei took office. That bill puts forward an emergency program to further liberalize the economy that includes hundreds of changes to Argentinian law that would, among other things, severely weaken workers rights, privatize massive parts of the economy, drastically reduce retirement and public services, and keep Argentina under the yoke of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These proposals follow a series of emergency cuts and layoffs and come amid a historic economic crisis for Argentina, which has experienced more than 200 percent inflation since the end of 2022, and more than 25 percent just since Milei took office. This has only been exacerbated by the Milei government’s recent decision to devalue the Argentinian pesos by more than 50 percent in an attempt to solve the country’s trade deficit on the backs of working people. 

Milei is also proposing bills that will allow him to entirely bypass congressional approval for future legislative changes, a maneuver that reveals the fundamentally Bonapartist nature of his regime and his plans to rule by decree in order to institute a program of shock therapy the likes of which have not been seen in Latin America in decades.

You might also be interested in: All Eyes Are on Argentina Ahead of Its January 24 National Strike

In response to these attacks, protesters and those on strike are calling not only for an end to the omnibus bill, but of all the emergency measures proposed by the Milei government since he took office in December, including a draconian security protocol, still in effect, meant to severely limit demonstrations that creates harsh penalties for blocking traffic or wearing masks. Wednesday’s demonstrations, which took over streets in neighborhoods throughout Buenos Aires, and other major cities in Argentina, including Mendoza and Córdoba, were a direct rejection of those protocols. 

Though it was the CGT that called the general strike, today’s demonstrations did not come out of thin air. Argentinians have been protesting and organizing cacerolazos (protests which include the banging of pots and pans) and neighborhood assemblies since shortly after Milei’s inauguration. These Assemblies have taken the form of regular demonstrations and mass discussions and debates in neighborhoods all over Buenos Aires and other major cities across the country. The PTS has been participating in all of these assemblies, putting forward a revolutionary politics of mass mobilization and self organization that go well beyond the timid calls of the union bureaucracy, which is planning to send its members back to work after just a single half day of protest. In contrast to this strategy of maneuver, the PTS is calling for an all-out indefinite general strike to defeat the omnibus law and all of Milei’s neoliberal measures. As PTS member and FIT-U (Left Front Unity) Congressperson Myriam Bregman argued, we cannot trust the labor bureaucrats limited opposition to Milei:  

[We] have been encouraging all sectors that oppose the government’s policies to do so actively and to coordinate their actions. It’s likely that the union leadership may use the size and power of the mobilizations on January 24 to sit down at the negotiating table with the government. We must be prepared to overcome the bureaucracy if this happens.

In other words, we cannot allow the labor bureaucracy to hijack and appropriate the anger of the streets and channel it into electoral politics. Only the self-organization of the working classes, independent of the Peronist so-called opposition, can defeat Milei’s plans to turn Argentina into a paradise for the imperialist exploiters of the global bourgeoisie. 

Facebook Twitter Share

James Dennis Hoff

James Dennis Hoff is a writer, educator, labor activist, and member of the Left Voice editorial board. He teaches at The City University of New York.


Latin America

The Fight against Javier Milei Has Set The Stage For a Whole New Wave of Struggle

The defeat of the Omnibus Law is a key victory for the movement against Javier Milei’s austerity plan and attacks on democratic rights. It shows that the working class and oppressed have the power to fight against the advance of the Far Right in Argentina and across the world.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

February 9, 2024

Defying Repression: Socialist Electeds in Argentina Show Us What Revolutionary Parliamentarism Looks Like

Workers in Argentina are defying police repression and fighting back against the far-right government’s shock therapy. Trotskyist members of congress are not just protesting inside the chamber — they are on the front lines of the demonstrations, getting pepper sprayed and shot with rubber bullets.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 9, 2024

Crisis for Javier Milei as Austerity Bill Is Defeated 

After a national strike and days of mobilizations, the movement in the streets has defeated far-right president Javier Milei’s anti-worker Omnibus Bill.

Otto Fors

February 7, 2024

“Internationalism is About What We’re Doing Here”: Speech Outside the Argentinian Consulate in NYC

Left Voice member Luigi Morris highlights the rise of the Far Right in Argentina, its connection to Zionism and U.S. imperialism, the role of Peronism in creating space for the Right, and how the revolutionary Left is fighting back.

Luigi Morris

February 1, 2024


Why German Media are Lying About the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the Free University of Berlin

A rally in front of the Free University of Berlin had as many journalists as demonstrators. This is yet another example of the international campaign to defame all protests against Israel's genocidal military campaign.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 16, 2024
CUNY workers at a demonstration hold a banner that reads "STRIKE TO SAVE CUNY."

CUNY Workers Launch New Strike Campaign

As Governor Hochul proposes another $528 million in cuts, workers at the City University of New York are fighting back.

Olivia Wood

February 12, 2024
Aftermath of Israeli bombing of Rafah, Gaza.

Israel Told Palestinians to Evacuate to Rafah — then Bombed Them

After instructing civilians to evacuate south, Israel has bombed the southern border city of Rafah. It’s not about eradicating Hamas — it’s ethnic cleansing.

Sou Mi

February 12, 2024
IMT leader Alan Woods giving a speech.

Are You a Communist? Then Let’s Talk about the IMT

The International Marxist Tendency, led by Alan Woods, is rebranding itself as “the Communists.” Does this represent a shift to the left? Sort of. Yet decades of opportunist positions do not disappear overnight.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 12, 2024