Usually when you think of December, you think of the holidays. Or at least snow or the beach, depending on which hemisphere you live in. But not in Argentina. No. Here’s it’s all about the December curse, which according to ancient lore says that in Argentina, the last month of the year will cause the fabric that keeps society together to dissolve quickly and steadily until we’re basically living in the Latin American remake of The Purge.
This year, it was the government’s decision to debate and try to pass a controversial pension reform bill that made the streets near Congress last week be turned into a war zone. The bill is pretty bad (please see our explainer below and find out why) and the government’s communication strategy is worse. At the same time, the opposition’s barbaric reaction to it (“let’s set the world on fire so the voting can never take place”) is a good reminder that certain left-leaning parties in this country love democracy, but they love it much more when they are in power.
The result was an embarrassing Lower House session that involved shoving and name-calling, while outside protesters and security forces clashed in ways that hadn’t been seen in years.
Hours after the failed session, on Thursday evening, the local media began to spread the rumor that the administration was considering passing the bill via presidential decree. The backlash was so immediate and severe – even Carrió said she was against such a move – that the Executive decided to take a step back and try a debate on the Lower House floor one more time.
And that’s happening today at 2 PM.
As deputies apparently get ready for war, protesters and social organizations get ready to march. This time, it’s the City Police that will be responsible for security in the area (replacing the Border Patrol). The government believes they have the votes to pass the bill (141 votes, to be exact), which has already been voted by the Senate. The CGT umbrella union is planning to announce a general strike after noon, so expect traffic in downtown Buenos Aires (or all over the city, really) to be impossible if that happens. Public transportation will be affected. Even flights are being canceled so check with your airline – especially Aerolíneas Argentinas and Latam – if you plan to travel today. All Aerolíneas Argentinas flights for today have been canceled while Latam is awaiting to see what the CGT decides.
Buses so far are working normally but considering the many roadblocks that will be set around the city, expect moving around the city to be hard. Union leader Mario Calegari didn’t seem sold on the idea of a strike after noon since “workers need to get back home” once the day is over.
The subte is working normally except for the A Line’s Congreso station (that’s been shut down today, of course), although it looks like the service will stop after 6 PM. And trains seem to be working normally.
Good luck today. We’re all going to need it.