Silencing Dissent: Milei’s Crackdown on Argentine Protesters Sparks Controversy


Javier Milei’s attempts to censor Argentine protesters have sparked controversy and opposition in the country. The government official, Patricia Bullrich, recently issued a “protocol for maintaining public order” and threatened retaliation against those who picket and block highways. These actions are seen by many as an infringement on the freedom to protest and express dissent.

In his inaugural address, Argentine President Javier Milei emphasized the need for a distinct country, where the State does not direct people’s lives but protects their rights. However, Milei’s words seem contradictory when the government resorts to force against protesters who are exercising their democratic right to protest against budget cuts and other policies.

Just six days prior to the initial demonstration planned by the Polo Obrero organization, Patricia Bullrich released the protocol, warning that there will be consequences for demonstrators who block highways or restrict freedom of movement. The government’s plan to restore order aims to ensure harmony among the populace, but it leaves little room for peaceful dissent. The exception to the protocol for private company-organized marathons and religious festivals raises questions about the government’s priorities and its commitment to upholding constitutional rights.

Opposition leaders have expressed doubts about the constitutionality of Bullrich’s protocol and plan to march through Buenos Aires with a crowd of around 50,000. They argue that the government’s actions have a significant impact on people’s lives and that protesting is a legitimate way to voice discontent. Myriam Bregman, a lawmaker and past presidential candidate, criticizes Bullrich for prioritizing the government’s agenda over the constitutional right to protest.

Political science expert Sergio Eissa explains that protests are an essential part of a robust democracy. The ability to peacefully assemble and voice opposition is just as important as voting in elections. However, the issue of picketing in Argentina, which dates back to the 1990s, remains unresolved. Eissa argues that the right to free movement and protest should not be restricted when neoliberal policies are implemented. Bullrich’s protocol, which allows demonstrations on sidewalks but restricts blockades and road closures, raises concerns about the government’s commitment to democratic values.

The impact of protests on traffic is a significant concern, especially in Buenos Aires. As a federative republic, Argentina requires coordination between federal and local authorities to handle demonstrations effectively. Eissa suggests that Bullrich’s plan can only be executed using federal troops and within federal property, including roadways. It is crucial that the Buenos Aires administration and other provinces follow the lead of their respective governments and police forces.

In conclusion, the attempts to censor Argentine protesters and restrict their freedom to express dissent have sparked opposition and raised questions about the government’s commitment to democratic values. The protocol issued by Patricia Bullrich threatens consequences for demonstrators, leading to concerns about the infringement on constitutional rights. The upcoming protests planned by opposition leaders demonstrate a strong belief in the importance of peaceful assembly and the right to protest in a robust democracy. As Argentina’s history shows, social unrest and protests have been prevalent since the 1990s, highlighting the need for a balance between maintaining public order and upholding democratic principles.