First protests in Argentina against President Milei’s austerity plan

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Buenos Aires in the first big protest against the new Argentine government’s economic shock policies.

President Javier Milei announced measures that include spending cuts and a drastic currency devaluation.

He also signed an economic reform decree that will end limits on exports.

The march was led by groups that represent the unemployed. Police were deployed in large numbers to stop the protesters from blocking roads.

President Milei, who took office less than two weeks ago, has promised tough action against any groups that try to thwart his plans with disruptive protests.

The government said on Monday that people who blocked streets could lose their right to receive state benefits.

“It is a peaceful mobilisation,” said Eduardo Belliboni, who leads leftist protest group Polo Obrero, which first called the demonstration, in an interview with local radio.

“We do not want any type of confrontation. We do not want any type of clash.”

In a speech broadcast on radio and TV, President Milei detailed some of 300 measures, marking what he called only a first step towards reconstruction.

They include privatising state companies and deregulating mining and other industries. The president said he would cancel the law regulating property rent.

He explained what he hoped the measures would achieve: “The goal is to start along the path to rebuilding our country, restore freedom and autonomy to individuals and begin dismantling the vast array of regulations that have hindered and stalled economic growth in our country.”

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