Police in Argentina have fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters gathered outside Congress in Buenos Aires as lawmakers debated newly elected President Javier Milei’s sweeping economic, social and political reform package.
Opposition legislators stormed out of the building at one point to observe and denounce the police action, but later went back inside to take their seats and the debate resumed until past midnight.
Local media reported three people injured and several arrests. The Buenos Aires press union reported at least a dozen journalists were hit by rubber bullets, including one in the face.
It all unfolded on the second day of what is expected to be a marathon debate on Milei’s so-called omnibus reform bill.
The 53-year-old political outsider – a libertarian and self-described anarcho-capitalist – won a resounding election victory last October on a wave of fury over decades of economic crises marked by debt, rampant money printing, inflation and fiscal deficit.
Milei began his term by devaluing the peso by more than 50 percent, cutting state subsidies for fuel and transport, reducing the number of ministries by half, and scrapping hundreds of rules so as to deregulate the economy.
His substantial reform package touches on all areas of public and private life, from privatisations to cultural issues, the penal code, divorce and the status of football clubs.
But many Argentinians are already up in arms and staged a strike less than two months into his term.
“Milei promises his austerity measures and reforms will bring down soaring inflation in Argentina and jumpstart the economy,” Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from Thursday’s protest, sad.
She noted, however, that the unrest showed “how difficult the months ahead will be and how the president is willing to confront those who dare oppose him”.