After receiving American praise, Javier Milei rediscovered the tensions he must face in Argentina, in an increasingly tense political climate.

Among the reasons for the crisis, deep disagreements between the national government and the provinces, and the anger of unions who are demanding salary increases.

During the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual conference organized on Saturday February 24 by American conservatives, the Argentine president met Donald Trump who was full of praise for him.

Diverting his traditional slogan "Make America Great Again" into "Make Argentina Great Again", he particularly praised the work of Javier Milei to stabilize the Argentine economy.

This vision is logically shared by the spokesperson for the Argentine presidency, Manuel Adorni, who denied, during a press briefing on February 26, the existence of a "governability problem" in Argentina.

A country which, according to him, “is in a process of greater maturity than at other times”.

However, the rag continues to burn between Javier Milei and certain provincial governors who, alerted by the suspension of federal state funds to their region, have warned against actions which could, in the long term, harm the executive. national.

What are the governors asking?

The "shock" plan promoted by the Argentine government ended up triggering a heated controversy with governors, affected by the reduction in funds allocated to the provinces, which they consider as punishment after the failure of the "omnibus law" to the Chamber of Deputies.

Of all 23 Argentine provinces (to which is added the autonomous city of Buenos Aires), none is governed by La Libertad Avanza, the far-right party led by Javier Milei.

The national government therefore does not benefit from any direct support from regional leaders.

Although the provinces receive co-participation funds, which are taken from taxes and sent automatically, governors protest against the reduction of discretionary transfers and the elimination of trust funds which were used in particular for works, payment of salaries or even pensions.

Faced with this strong opposition to the Argentine executive, the president described the provincial governors as “fiscal degenerates” in a post published on X (formerly Twitter).


— Javier Milei (@JMilei) February 24, 2024

On February 21, the province of La Rioja (northwest) appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice to request the suspension of the application of Javier Milei's decree, and began to issue a "quasi-currency" (substitute currency). to the peso) to meet its expenses.

The province of La Pampa (center) turned to the Court to complain about the elimination of subsidies allocated to transport.

For their part, the provinces of Río Negro (south) and Misiones (northeast) are suing the national government for not having sent the provinces aid funds for teachers, which are used to pay around 15% of their salaries .

Finally, the Patagonian province of Chubut has already obtained a favorable decision from a court of first instance concerning the suspension of funds intended for public transport.

The governor of this southern province, Ignacio Torres, clashed with Javier Milei after threatening to cut off gas and oil supplies if he did not receive the funds he demanded.

A threat supported by the majority of the country's provinces.

Read alsoIn Argentina, Javier Milei continues his ultraliberal crusade despite street protests

The blackmail of the province of Chubut

The controversy began late last week, after the Argentine government withheld some 13.5 billion pesos ($15.7 million) in federal tax revenue that it was supposed to pay to Chubut province.

The executive justified itself by assuring that this restraint was legal, but the provincial government led by Ignacio Torres - member of the main Argentine conservative bloc which supported Javier Milei - does not see it that way.

Denouncing an "arbitrary" measure, he claims to have tried to negotiate with the new Argentine administration a restructuring of the debt, then its cancellation, but to have obtained no response.

Backed by the wall, Ignacio Torres then posed an ultimatum to the national government: if the funds are not paid, the province of Chubut, second largest oil producer in Argentina (21% of the country's total) and third largest gas producer (6 %) will suspend the shipment of hydrocarbons.

A threat denounced Monday by Manuel Adorni who declared that it was "not an attack against the federal government, but against all Argentines."

If Javier Milei affirmed that a suspension of the delivery of oil or gas would involve "violating a property right", which he described as a "crime", the Argentine Constitution indicates that natural resources remain the property of the provinces which can grant concessions to companies for their exploitation, as is the case for hydrocarbons.

In front of the cameras of the news channel "La Nación +", the Argentine president violently tackled Ignacio Torres, describing him as "a poor guy who doesn't even know how to read a contract" and showing "very great precariousness intellectual.

On X, Ignacio Torres responded to him, saying he was "not afraid of [him]".

“I do not believe in violence and I will defend the people of Chubut until the last consequences,” he wrote, condemning the insults and threats made by the Argentine president.

"You must govern for all Argentines, that's why they voted for you. They elected me to defend the interests of my province, and that's what I'm going to do."

In this aerial view, members of social organizations gather in front of the Ministry of Human Capital to protest the shortage of food in soup kitchens and the "shock" plan of the government of President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires, February 23, 2024 .

Demonstrations before an expected speech to Congress

As if that wasn't enough for Javier Milei, the week began with new protests against his administration.

Protests led in particular by the Association of State Workers (ATE), which is demanding a salary increase.

The union recalled that during the last joint meeting, on February 19, the government proposed an increase of 12% while inflation of 20.6% in January had already been announced, according to information published by the agency. press release Telam. 

A strike was also organized on Monday, the start of the school year, by the Confederation of Education Workers of the Argentine Republic (CTERA), on the eve of a meeting with national authorities to "demand" the transfer of funds for educational purposes to all provinces, as well as the opening of salary negotiations across the country.

CTERA is among many teachers' unions, but is one of the most offensive, disrupting the start of the school year in the city of Buenos Aires and in the provinces of Corrientes, San Luis, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Entre Ríos, Formosa and Mendoza .

Members of trade union organizations gather to protest against the shortage of food in soup kitchens and the "shock" plan of the government of President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires, February 23, 2024. © Tomas Cuesta, AFP

Javier Milei will deliver a much-anticipated speech to the Legislative Assembly on March 1 to mark the opening of the regular sessions of Congress.

This is his second intervention before the legislative power (the first took place after his inauguration, on December 10), and his first since the failure of the "omnibus" law.

With EFE, Reuters and local media

This article was adapted from Spanish.

Find the original version here.

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