Argentina passes pension reform despite violent protests


Demonstrators clash with police as lawmakers debate a pension reform measure, in Buenos AiresImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Protesters clashed with police near the country’s congress building on Monday

Argentina’s government has passed a controversial reform of the country’s pension system amid violent protests.

Clashes between protesters and police broke out on Monday ahead of the vote, amid fears the changes would have a heavy impact on the poor.

But the governing coalition managed to push through the changes on Tuesday, winning the vote 128-116.

President Mauricio Macri’s government said the move was needed to lower the deficit.

One of the controversial changes in the new law is moving the retirement age from 65 to 70 for men and from 60 to 63 for women.

At the same time, changes are to be made to the formula used to calculate payments, which is expected to lower the amounts paid.

The Senate had already approved the bill. But the vote in the lower house, originally scheduled for last Thursday, had been delayed because of civil unrest.

After the initial disruption, President Macri promised an additional payment to existing pensioners as a concession. But demonstrations continued when lawmakers returned to the debate in congress.

‘Peaceful resistance’

On Monday protesters threw stones, fireworks and even improvised explosives at police – who used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in response.

At least 100 people were injured, and dozens were arrested.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Dozens on both sides of the clashes were injured

After nightfall, protests continued, with residents banging pots and pans in a traditional show of protest.

Despite the unrest, congress approved the measures on Tuesday morning.

Leader of the opposition Peronist party, Agustin Rossi, said the new law harmed pensioners.

He said in a tweet: “There is a mixture of anguish and fury in society as a whole, which feels ripped off by this law. Now peaceful resistance will begin.”

President Macri, a former mayor of Buenos Aires, is the first clearly conservative elected president in almost a century.

He won the 2015 presidential election, seeing off left-wing opponents, and consolidated his governing coalition’s power in parliamentary elections earlier this year.

He has since vowed to press ahead with unpopular austerity measures as part of pro-market reforms.



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