Protesters clash with security forces outside Argentine Congress amid debate on key gov't bill

Protesters clash with security forces outside Argentine Congress amid debate on key gov't bill

Five lawmakers hospitalized after police use tear gas against massive demonstration

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Protesters clashed with security forces Wednesday in front of Argentina’s Congress in Buenos Aires while senators debated a key bill concerning President Javier Milei’s economic reforms.

The ‘Omnibus Law' under discussion seeks to promote a liberal economic model based on the reduction of state interventionism and the promotion of private initiative as well as the delegation of legislative powers to the president, who has said he will "destroy the state from within.”

Opponents of the initiative warn that the labor reform included in the bill will make layoffs cheaper in a country where thousands of people have already lost their jobs.

The protesters threw stones, sticks and bottles at the police, which dispersed them with tear gas. The clashes left several people injured, including five lawmakers who were hospitalized. Opposition senators asked to pause the session due to the violence seen in the streets, but the discussion is still ongoing.

So far, three people have been detained and at least 11 have been injured.

Some groups of demonstrators, including members of different unions, gathered in the center of the Argentine capital to protest since Tuesday night. Hundreds of people joined them on Wednesday.

President Milei has defended his reform package.

“They have been discussing the (Ley de) ‘Bases’ bill for six months, which would have made the adjustment less painful, but politics doesn't care about that,” he said at a finance forum before leaving on a tour of Europe, where he will participate in the G7 summit in Italy.

The bill was already approved in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies in February, and all that remains is for the Senate to vote on it.

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