The new president has moved to discourage demonstrations against his “shock therapy” plan
Argentinians who participate in road closures will be punished by loss of social benefits, President Javier Milei’s government announced on Monday.
Setting up roadblocks, known as ‘corte de ruta’, has long been the preferred form of protest in the South American country. Milei has sought to outlaw the practice in anticipation of backlash against his “shock therapy” policies for economic and political recovery.
“Protesting is a right, but so is the ability to move freely through Argentine territory to get to work,” Minister of Human Capital Sandra Pettovello said in a video message to the nation, posted by Milei’s office.
Anyone who promotes, instigates, organizes, or participates in roadblocks will lose access to the ministry and could lose their welfare benefits as well, Pettovello said.
The government will audit the organizations that administer welfare benefits to “cut out the middleman” and ensure no one is blackmailed into attending protests by threats to withhold their benefits. Anyone whose benefits are cut because they didn’t attend a protest can call a number to report this to the government.
“The only ones who are not going to get paid are those who go to protests and block the streets,” Pettovello added. “Those who block will not get money.”
To help the most vulnerable members of society, the government will double the Universal Child Allowance and raise the Food Card allotment by 50%, Pettovello said. The government is working hard so that “all citizens can recover their jobs, autonomy and freedom,” she added.
Milei, a self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” was elected on a platform of radical economic and political reforms. In his inaugural address on December 10, he described Argentina as being on the “brink of its deepest crisis in history,” with the previous government leaving a ruinous inheritance of hyperinflation, trade deficit, and debt.
“There is no alternative to a shock adjustment,” Milei said. “There is no money.”
According to the president, Argentina has an annual inflation of 143%, a trade deficit of $43 billion, and $45 billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund alone, with over $10 billion in debt payments due in April. He has proposed devaluing the currency, drastically shrinking the government and cutting regulations, in hopes of spurring private enterprise.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized Milei’s proposal to adopt the US dollar as Argentina’s currency, noting that this would result in Buenos Aires giving up its sovereignty to Washington.
December 19, 2023 at 03:42AM