A general strike against Argentina’s far-right president, Javier Milei, rocked the country on 24 January, just 45 days into his new government’s term. By mid-morning, the plaza outside the National Congress building in Buenos Aires, the capital, was packed. More than half a million people turned up to protest—striking workers, the unemployed, representatives from neighbourhood assemblies, people mobilised by social justice organisations and left-wing political groups.
In a darkened cinema in Buenos Aires, a film about the 2001 economic crisis and the romantic importance of tango music is about to begin. But first comes an advertisement for the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Art, which runs the state-owned cinema. The crowd cheers: they reject its impending privatisation.
In an old, rundown theatre in Córdoba, Argentina, a mass assembly of cultural sector workers and students met on the night of 3 January. Almost every seat inside was taken; many stood, packed next to the cinema screen and flooding the aisles. A stream of people ran to the front to get on the speaking list.
As midnight approached on 20 December, people streamed from their homes into streets across Argentina, banging pots and pans. As small, scattered groups marched, they grew and merged, forming cacerolazo demonstrations in neighbourhood after neighbourhood. (Cacerolazo is derived from “casserole dish”, which middle-class people traditionally bang with spoons in Argentinian protests.) Javier Milei, the newly elected far-right president had appeared on television just minutes before to announce a package of sweeping spending cuts and price increases.
Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo has announced the closure of an environmentally destructive copper mine after the country’s Supreme Court ruled on 28 November that legislation granting the mine a 20-year concession was unconstitutional. The decision was greeted with jubilation by masses of protesters who had fought for weeks for this result.
The turbulent political winds of Latin America blew to the far right in Argentina’s November presidential election. Javier Milei, a self-styled “anarcho-capitalist”, won 56 percent of the vote, while his opponent Sergio Massa, economy minister in the Peronist centre-left ruling coalition, secured only 44 percent.