Rubber bullets fly as Milei’s reform plans spark protests

A violent confrontation erupted between police and protesters outside Congress on Thursday, as lawmakers discussed the controversial reform package of the self-defined anarcho-capitalist President Javier Milei.

Protester wounded in the vicinity of Congress. Photo courtesy: Zona Norte Hoy

As lawmakers discussed the new president’s extensive package of economic, social and political reforms, Argentine police used rubber bullets to break up protesters who had gathered outside Congress on Thursday.

The tension escalated on the second day of the expected long debate on the reform proposals of President Javier Milei, a libertarian and self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist.

Hundreds of protesters who were against the reform package were met with rubber bullets and water cannons from the police, as shown by television footage.

Some opposition lawmakers left the building temporarily to witness and condemn the police violence, but they came back later and the debate continued.

Leftist lawmaker Mariano Del Cano, who was among those who left, said: “We cannot hold a session under these circumstances.”

However, Alejandro Finocchiaro, a lawmaker who backs Milei, blamed those who left for trying to stall the debate and said the protesters outside “were determined to be repressed so that this session will come to a halt.”

Milei, whose party only has 38 of the 257 seats in the lower house and faces widespread opposition to his reform plans, has a difficult task ahead.

Some moderate opposition lawmakers have said they will demand more modifications to the bill, especially on the delicate issue of giving special powers to the executive in an economic emergency.

Milei, who became president in December, promised to cut spending and end a long-lasting economic crisis in the third-largest economy in South America, where the annual inflation rate is over 200%.

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