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Jun 13, 2024, 12:19pm EDT
South America
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Semafor Signals

Argentina’s Senate passes sweeping new liberalization package

Insights from La Nación, The Economist, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, and El País



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Javier Milei
Agustin Marcarian/Reuters
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The News

Argentina’s Senate approved a wide-reaching slate of new laws that will put the country into a one-year state of emergency and broaden presidential powers over economic, security, and energy issues. The bills also call for the privatization of several state-owned assets, and incentives for investment.

The narrow passing of the liberalization package, known as “Ley Bases,” was a huge legislative win for President Javier Milei. Violent protests erupted outside Congress in Buenos Aires as lawmakers debated the new legislation. 

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The tied vote was broken by Vice President Victoria Villarruel in favor of the government, who said she did it “for the Argentines who deserve to regain the pride of being Argentinian.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Milei has pledged economic prosperity, but Argentines still feel ‘squeezed’

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Sources:  
El País, La Nación, Reuters, The Economist

The liberalization package is the “cornerstone” of Milei’s economic agenda, La Nación wrote, and he envisions a a “liberal Argentina,” where “the market reigns and the State is a memory of the past,” El País noted. Milei is trying to reverse Argentina’s economic headwinds; the country is in a recession, the economy is expected to shrink 4% this year, wages and retirements are falling, and poverty is on the rise. While inflation reached its lowest level since 2022 in May, it’s still among the highest in the world. Argentines report feeling “squeezed,” and some of Milei’s economic measures are “increasingly absurd temporary macroeconomic fixes” that are unlikely to succeed in the long-term, The Economist wrote.

New laws could worsen the situation

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Sources:  
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, El País

The new legislation could further increase inequality, non-profit organization Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales argued. The laws reduce state benefits to the pension system, making it more difficult for people to retire. Meanwhile, trade unionists have warned that the labor reform included in the draft would make layoffs cheaper, and unemployment could continue to mount in the face of the country’s ongoing recession, El País reported.

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