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Latam Brief: Milei’s decree faces obstacles

Milei ofreció un discurso flanqueado por todo su gabinete. (Presidencia Argentina)
Milei ofreció un discurso flanqueado por todo su gabinete. (Presidencia Argentina)

Latin America Daily Briefing

Argentine President Javier Milei’s “mega” presidential decree, that seeks to carry out extensive reform in one fell swoop, faces political, judicial and popular challenges. For the second night in a row, protesters gathered banging pots and pans in different cities. Argentina’s largest union confederation will file a legal challenge and will demonstrate for the decree’s overturn, next week. They are analyzing a general strike. And other legal challenges were filed yesterday. (Ámbito, Ámbito, Página 12, Página 12, Anfibia, See yesterday’s post.)

Argentine opposition lawmakers from across the political spectrum — with the exception of a faction of the conservative PRO party — expressed rejection. Most take issue with the unprecedented strategy of reforming more than 300 laws in one decree — affecting everything from the right to strike to making soccer clubs for profit — saying it overrides the democratic division of powers.

A significant chunk of center-right leaders said they support Milei’s agenda, and have sought to guarantee the new administration’s governability, but that the content of the decree should be broken up into a series of bills to be addressed by Congress, reports La Nación. (See also Página 12.) Some members of the centrist Unión Cívica Radical party have called for a “Mirror Law,” a bill containing all the measures of the decree, that would permit lawmakers to approve or reject individual reforms. (La Política Online)

Constitutional experts have questioned the legality of the omnibus decree. (Infobae)

Leftist parties also take issue with the content of the reform, which rolls back labor regulations, protection of national industry, and pharmaceutical oversight. (Página 12)

Myriam Bregman, a prominent leftist and former presidential candidate, called the edict a “battle plan against working people.” Juan Grabois, a well-known social leader and politician, claimed Milei had decreed “the establishment of an absolute monarchy … bent on using heavy ammunition to attack the country’s middle and lower classes.” (Guardian)


  • Nicaraguan authorities detained Bishop Isidro del Carmen Mora Ortega on Wednesday, a day after he said that the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua “remains in prayer” for Monsignor Rolando Álvarez — a political prisoner in Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo have redoubled their persecution of the Catholic Church and are specifically targeting the highest ecclesiastical authorities, reports El País.


  • The Venezuela-U.S. prisoner swap is an indication of potential political advances in Venezuela, writes Luz Mely Reyes in El País. (See yesterday’s post.)


  • Human rights activists believe the Mexican government’s review of the official register of “disappeared” people, carried out with little transparency, could be a ploy to reduce negative statistics. The move follows the increasing politization of the registry, which serves as a proxy for Mexico’s continuing insecurity, reports the Guardian.


  • “The last year has seen criminal groups turn political chaos to their advantage throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. InSight Crime’s investigators break down the year’s biggest stories from across the region.”


  • Cuba’s government announced a package of economic measures for next year “that will make life more expensive for families on the island in the short term,” reports El País.


  • Illegal mining has expanded rapidly throughout Peru’s Loreto region in recent years, with miners emboldened by the combination of absent authorities and rising gold prices. More than 170,000 Indigenous inhabitants across the Peruvian Amazon could be affected by the ensuing pollution and threat of disease, reports the Guardian.


  • “The number of extortion cases recorded in Ecuador has skyrocketed over the past year, suggesting that the country’s fragmenting criminal gangs are seeking new sources of income,” reports InSight Crime.


  • U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador yesterday to address the migration crisis in the region, reports El País.
  • Biden said he will send top U.S. officials to Mexico in the coming days to seek help with the record migration surge that prompted U.S. authorities to shut down two major railway crossings and other ports of entry, reports the Washington Post.
  • Two children Guinea who were abandoned in a Colombia airport have been taken into government custody. “Migrants from Africa increasingly use South American and Central American airports as stepping stones on the long route to the U.S.,” reports the Guardian.


  • Colombia’s government wants to recover objects from a valuable 300-year-old shipwreck, a controversial move critics say could affect archeological artifacts, reports the Guardian.


  • Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser discusses the historical context, ideological characteristics, and consequential impact of the recent far-right advances in Latin America on the Rev Dem podcast. Although the issues the Latin American far-right emphasizes are different from those of their European counterparts, Kaltwasser identifies common denominators: “From an ideological point of view, the key issues being politicized are moral conservatism, taking very harsh stances on issues related, for example, to gay rights and abortion, and a mano dura, having iron fist policies against crime.” — Ideas Letter

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing

December 26, 2023

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