Buenos Aires has been rocked by conflict over President Miley’s reforms

video title, Argentina Reforms: Police and Protesters Clash in Buenos Aires

  • author, Jaroslav Lukiv
  • stock, BBC News
  • Report from London

Riot police in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters outside Congress, ahead of lawmakers giving initial approval to budget-cutting reforms in Brazil’s Senate on Wednesday.

Demonstrators – who said the measures would hurt millions of Argentines – threw petrol bombs and stones, and set fire to a car.

Local media described the scene on Wednesday as a “battlefield”, with several people reportedly injured.

A package of reforms proposed by right-wing President Javier Mille to revive the country’s ailing economy includes declaring a state of economic emergency, cutting pensions and diluting workers’ rights.

These measures have been opposed by left-wing political parties, labor unions and social organizations.

But the motion, initially tied 36-36 in the Senate, was tentatively passed on Wednesday after the chamber’s leader, Vice President Victoria Villarreal, broke the tie.

“For those Argentines who are vulnerable, who are waiting, who don’t want to see their children leave the country… my vote is firm,” Vice President and Senate President Ms Villaruel said after breaking the equation.

The 328-article bill will be scrutinized before full approval is expected on Thursday.

It then returns to the House of Commons for the finals.

image caption, Police used tear gas and water cannon on the protesters, who pelted them with petrol bombs and stones
image caption, Ahead of the bill’s passage, scuffles broke out as protesters tried to march towards Congress
image caption, Two vehicles, including a news agency, were reportedly set on fire

Ahead of the bill’s passage in the Senate, protesters chanted: “Country not for sale, country preserved,” while a banner read: “How can a head of state hate the government?”

As the demonstrators tried to make their way through the fences towards the Congress, the protesters threw stones at the officers who sprayed them with pepper spray.

Dozens of spectators and opposition MPs Demonstrators and a few MPs received medical treatment. At least five opposition MPs were hospitalized at the meeting, lawmaker Cecilia Morey told AFP news agency.

At least 20 police officers were also injured, officials said. Security forces said they arrested 15 people.

Police pushed back the protesters who allegedly torched two vehicles, including a news agency.

“We cannot believe that we are debating a law that will set us back 100 years in Argentina,” Fabio Nunez, a 55-year-old opposition lawyer, was quoted as saying by AFP.

President Millay’s office issued a statement calling for the crackdown on security forces it described as “terrorists” attempting to stage a coup.

“We are going to change Argentina, we are going to make it the most liberal country in the world,” Mr Mili told a conference in Buenos Aires.

image caption, Dozens of protesters and a handful of MPs reportedly received medical treatment

The highly divisive bill, after significant amendments, was approved by the lower house in April.

Mr Milli took office after pledging to take a chainsaw to public spending in 2023.

While on the campaign trail, he displayed a chainsaw during a speech to mark his commitment.

He has halved the Cabinet, cut 50,000 public jobs, suspended new public works contracts and stripped fuel and transport subsidies even as annual inflation approached 300%.

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