Clashes in Buenos Aires as Senate passes controversial reforms

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Protesters and police clashed outside Argentina’s Congress on Wednesday as senators approved a controversial reform package to privatize several state entities and introduce tax breaks for major investors.

The package was approved by a very narrow margin: 37 voted in favor and 36 against.

The deciding vote was cast by Vice President Victoria Villarruel, who as president of the Senate was able to avoid a stalemate by voting in favor, local media reported.

Outside, hooded protesters threw rocks and firebombs at officers in Buenos Aires, while police used batons and tear gas. According to broadcaster TN, several cars went up in flames and about twenty suspects were arrested.

The office of Argentina’s far-right, libertarian President Javier Milei congratulated the security forces in a post on

It was later posted that the Senate approval was “a victory for the Argentine people and the first step towards restoring our greatness.” As a result of numerous amendments, the legislation now returns to the lower court for debate and another vote.

The reform package proposed by Milei’s government includes the privatization of several state-owned enterprises, tax breaks for major investors and labor market and tax reforms.

The left-wing opposition and social movements branded the package as neoliberal and unfair, and the government had to significantly reduce its proposals to gain support in parliament.

Argentina has been plagued by a serious economic crisis for years. Annual inflation recently skyrocketed to nearly 290%, one of the highest levels in the world.

Milei’s government recently cut thousands of public sector jobs, cut subsidies and ended social programs, sparking demonstrations.

Critics say Milei’s harsh austerity program is pushing many people into poverty and endangering the country’s future.

According to the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, about 56% of people in the once-prosperous country live below the poverty line.

South America’s second-largest economy suffers from a bloated state sector, low industrial productivity and a large shadow economy that deprives the state of much tax revenue.

A woman looks at the camera through the glass of a cafe, while a police officer watches her on the other side.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaA woman looks at the camera through the glass of a cafe, while a police officer watches her on the other side.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Argentina's National Gendarmerie clashes with protesters.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by the security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaArgentina's National Gendarmerie clashes with protesters.  The Senate Chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by the security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Argentina's National Gendarmerie has beaten anti-government protesters.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by the security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaArgentina's National Gendarmerie has beaten anti-government protesters.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

A protester peeks out from behind the banners.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaA protester peeks out from behind the banners.  The Senate chamber of the Argentine Congress is debating Javier Milei's Ley Bases, which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, while hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protest in the streets and confrontations and repressive actions by security forces take place.  Santiago Oroz/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

A Volkswagen car burns in front of Congress during a protest against the reform plan of President Milei's ultra-liberal government, which is being debated in Congress.  The plan provides, among other things, for new regulations for high investments and a more flexible labor market.  Fernando Gens/dpaA Volkswagen car burns in front of Congress during a protest against the reform plan of President Milei's ultra-liberal government, which is being debated in Congress.  The plan provides, among other things, for new regulations for high investments and a more flexible labor market.  Fernando Gens/dpa

A Volkswagen car burns in front of Congress during a protest against the reform plan of President Milei’s ultra-liberal government, which is being debated in Congress. The plan provides, among other things, for new regulations for high investments and a more flexible labor market. Fernando Gens/dpa

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