Friday, July 12, 2024

ARGENTINA | 13-06-2024 15:07

Milei government officials slam ‘coup’ attempt after Congress clashes

President Milei, Patricia Bullrich and Manuel Adorni accuse violent demonstrators of seeking to overthrow government in a "modern coup d'état."

Government officials on Thursday condemned the previous night’s scenes of violence outside Congress and accused its opponents of launching a “coup” to remove President Javier Milei’s administration from office.

President Milei and members of his administration denounced the “terrorists” who demonstrated against his ‘Ley de Bases’ reform package and warned perpetrators of violence would face justice.

Milei’s controversial economic reform package won Senate approval late Wednesday night after a marathon 12-hour session, during which police and protesters clashed violently outside Congress.

Lawmakers debated a swathe of liberalising reforms at length, while security forces fired tear gas and water cannon at rioting demonstrators outside.

In total, 33 arrests were made by the authorities. 

Scuffles broke out earlier when protesters tried to bypass a system of fences set up between them and Congress. Officers used rubber bullets and pepper spray against the rioters, who responded by lobbing stones at the police.

Seven people, including five lawmakers among the protesters, were treated at hospital after being pepper sprayed, according to the Health Ministry.

Dozens of others received medical attention at the scene.

Later, as night fell, thick blocks of shield-bearing officers and others on motorbikes pushed back the protesters, who overturned two cars – one of which belonged to local media organisation Cadena 3 – and set them on fire.

The detainees were awaiting questioning on Thursday and were at the disposal of Federal Judge María Servini.

President Milei’s office on X denounced "the terrorist groups that with sticks, stones and even grenades, tried to perpetrate a coup d'état."

Speaking on Thursday, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich repeated that line, condemning the events as a "modern coup d'état." 

"We are going to ask the justice system to charge them with sedition. We worked hard because we knew, as the President of the nation said, that it is a coup d'état,” the official told the LN+ news channel.

She placed the blame for the violence at the feet of “Kirchnerism, the left and trade union organisers,” also picking up picket movements such as the MTE, Somos Barrios de Pie and the MST. 

“They should be aware that they are the provocateurs of violence who generate a discourse of wanting to overturn the government because they don't like the things that the government decides," Bullrich said.

She rejected allegations that the most violent perpetrators were plants from the intelligence services.

"Those who have been talking about ‘infiltrating people’ – they will see when the CVs come out, the backgrounds of the people. They are going to meet them all, one-by-one," she said confidently.

Asked about the incident in which five opposition Peronist national deputies were tear gassed by police, she accused the Unión por la Patria lawmakers of supporting the violence.

She suggested that they should have their parliamentary immunity withdrawn for committing “a flagrant crime.”

Lawmaker Eduardo Valdés, one of the deputies who was hit with tear gas, said the scenes were "unnecessary." 

"We cannot understand this logic from the security minister that classifies between friends and enemies," he said.

“The President must also be called upon to reflect. President, you know that there was no coup attempt or anything like that. If that were the case, you would not be leaving the country today,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni said that Argentines had seen the two faces of the nation.

“An Argentina where millions of Argentines won" and, at the same time, "the savage Argentina: the Argentina of covered faces, of Molotov bombs and of tons of stones."

"Outside Congress there were terrorists trying to take away democracy, who claimed to represent the people, but who were never voted for by anyone,” continued Adorni.

“A total of 31 criminals were arrested, and the organisations MST, PTS, Barrios de Pie, Evita and many others are going to pay for the damage they caused," he warned. 



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