Argentinean general strike against the Milei government 

Inauguration of Javier Milei, December 2023 (CC)

 The election of the far-right politician, Javier Milei, as Argentine President, who is also known as “El loco” – the madman – has thrown down the gauntlet to the working class. The programme Milei has announced after taking office, if enacted, amounts to tsunami of attacks on the working class. It is a programme of the ‘Chicago Boys’ on steroids. Included in an emergency decree and then a mega-reform bill known as the “omnibus law” are hundreds of explosive measures. They include a wave of privatisations, brutal spending cuts, a massive expansion of Presidential powers and attacks on the right to protest and strike. Of eighteen governments departments, nine have already been closed, including those responsible for education, the environment, women, and gender rights. The Argentine peso has been devalued by more than 50%.  

Argentina had been at the forefront of women and gender rights in Latin America but now Meili is threatening to role these reforms back and is threatening a referendum to roll back the right to abortion. 

Argentina has been in the grip of a devastating economic crisis. It has worsened since Milei’s election. Monthly inflation hit 25. % in December compared with 12. % in November. Annual inflation at 211.4% is the highest in three decades. Over 40% of the population is living below the official poverty line.  

Milei came to power following a devastating economic crisis which the outgoing corrupt Peronist regime was incapable of resolving. Support for the Peronists had slumped as corruption and attacks on the working class undermined its traditional support base amongst the working class. The vote for Milei was cry of desperation of the oppressed and ravaged middle class.  

Yet the declaration of war thrown down by Milei is set to provoke massive class battles and struggles. After only 45 days in power, he has confronted a massive general strike. Around 200,000-300,000 rallied in Buenos Airies and in other protests throughout the country. The powerful Peronist controlled trade unions were compelled by the pressure from the ranks to call action. The strong state sector, in which they have a powerful base, is under a massive assault. 

The crucial question is what now? A one-day general strike to mobilise workers and the masses was a crucial step forward. However, this is not enough, and a national plan of struggle is urgently needed to confront Milei’s government.  

The right-wing are preparing for a bitter struggle. Although they do not have a majority in the Congress. In the Congress, the Trotskyist Deputies of the FIT were threatened with “prison or a bullet” illustrating what lies ahead. It is urgent that the bureaucratic leaders of the trade unions be challenged, and a programme of struggle mapped out. The FIT needs to initiate a campaign to call a national congress of all those prepared to struggle against the reactionary programme of the government. The 24-hour general strike needs to be followed up with calls for further action including a 48-hour general strike in preparation for action to challenge and defeat the government. 

It is essential that the FIT also initiate a struggle to win the support of rank-and-file Peronist workers who are increasingly disillusioned with the bureaucratic and corrupt Peronist leaders including in the trade unions which they control. 

The crisis in Argentina is preparing the way for a social explosion and uprising. The FIT needs a programme to build a mass alternative to capitalism and raise the need for a government of the working class and poor that will enact a programme to break with capitalism. Such a programme would need to include a refusal to pay the massive debt which is crippling the economy and nationalisation of the banking sector and key sectors of the under democratic workers control and management, introduce capital controls and introduce an emergency socialist plan to rebuild the devasted economy. The explosive events pending in Argentina will have a crucial impact in the struggles unfolding throughout Latin America.  

 

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