The Left’s Global Networks Take Aim at President Milei


The Left’s Global Networks Take Aim at President Milei

Feb 6, 2024 5 min read
Mike Gonzalez

Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow

Mike is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
President of Argentina Javier Milei arrives to the Colon Theater for a gala event on December 10, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Marcelo Endelli / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The one-day strike by Argentina’s main labor unions...was partly the result of a global effort.

The Argentine situation would be front and center at a meeting of thousands of Marxist militants planned for next month, said Rafael Freire.

This is what is arrayed against Milei. He remains immensely popular, an asset he will need against the organized global forces against him.

Javier Milei is the president of one country, Argentina, which makes him accountable to the world’s 46 million Argentines. But the global Left knows that if Milei’s free-market reforms succeed, its ascendancy might be cut short. That is why so many of its members supported or even helped plan last week’s massive demonstrations against the new leader.

The one-day strike by Argentina’s main labor unions, accompanied by the biggest street demonstration the South American country has ever seen, was partly the result of a global effort. The trade unions, organizations, individuals, and Marxist global networks involved spanned the world, and used the social media platforms of Facebook, X, Instagram, and Zoom to promote the marches or to plan what to do.

We have seen a similar blueprint employed in the past—in Chile in 2019, in the U.S. in 2020, and in Colombia in 2021.

An event or tragedy is seized by revolutionary forces that want to upend society; they and global leftist networks use social media to generate uproar and street demonstrations; and political change follows. In Chile it was a hike in subway prices, in the U.S. it was George Floyd’s death, and in Colombia it was a rise in taxes.

>>> What Argentina’s President-Elect Javier Milei Means for U.S.

In Argentina on Wednesday, they were protesting Milei’s moves to deregulate and privatize the economy. On Dec. 20, soon after being sworn in, Milei issued a decree limiting the reach of the powerful labor unions. He also sent Congress an “Omnibus Legislation,” which provides a much-needed jolt to Argentina’s sluggish economy, deregulating various sectors and partially privatizing state behemoths.

That was enough to set the Global Left on fire. Next-door Brazil—whose shadow over Latin America’s far Leftist forces looms large—led the way with the most organizations and individuals involved in helping Argentine trade unions and leftist social movements organize the protest against Milei’s plan.

Brazil is a demographic and geographical giant ruled by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, perhaps the hemisphere’s best known Marxist leader. Lula is also the founder of the Foro de Sao Paulo, the world’s largest grouping of Marxist parties and organizations.

The Foro threw its backing against the march. Its executive secretary Monica Valente not only promoted the Jan. 24 Argentine protest and other anti-Milei demonstrations since he took office, but she shared on social media a zoom meeting of more than 200 global leftists unionists that took place with the main Argentine union six days before the demonstration, on January 18.

The nearly two-hour session was led by Rafael Freire, a Brazilian who is secretary general of the gigantic Confederación Sindical de los/las Trabajadores/as de las Américas (CSA), or the Labor Confederation of Workers from the Americas. Freire and militants from Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, Africa, Australia, Belgium and many other countries took turns to speak. Former Uruguay President Pepe Mujica also attended.

They strategized on plans to hold solidarity protests in front of the Argentine embassy all over the world on the same day as the marches in Argentina. They also discussed writing letters to Milei, the Argentine Congress and the Argentine Supreme Court demanding that Milei desist from his plans.

Freire insisted that he and other international union leaders on the call were taking their cues from the leaders of the three main Argentine unions leading the protest efforts. But he and others spoke in apocalyptic tones about what would happen to the rest of the world if Milei succeeded, so they would help Argentines defeat Milei.

“We are facing ultra-right governments, a neo-liberal fundamentalism that started with Trump in the United States,” said Freire as the session got under way. “If this kind of politics succeeds in Argentina, we have no doubt that it will advance throughout all Latin America.”

The Argentine situation would be front and center at a meeting of thousands of Marxist militants planned for next month where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, said Freire, speaking from Brazil in a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese that would have been perfectly understandable to most of those tuning in.

The Jan. 24 march was but the start of the global anti-Milei campaign, he said.

“Argentina is a global laboratory,” said Argentine union leader Roberto Baradel, when it was his turn to speak. Baradel decried how Milei was making “the right to property the central right in our social, political and economic life.”

A union leader from Spain named “Felix” agreed that Milei was leading an attack on “the working class of the world. It’s enough to see the outrages Milei said (in his speech at the World Economic Forum) in Davos, when he said there was no such thing as market failure!”

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Nearly all speakers agreed on the supposed global threat posed by Milei, describing him as a fascist leading a crusade against the environment, women’s rights, immigration, etc. “On the 24th we are all Argentines,” said Freire, “because we belong to a single working class. Among us there is no border; we must regain the sense of class.”

Similar classical Marxist themes were struck by Brazilian groups such as the Trotskyite group Fracao Trotskista Quarta Internacional and the Marxist website Esquerda Diario, which used different social media platforms to help gin up turn out for the Jan. 24 demonstration not just in Argentine cities, but in others around the world, such as Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Santiago de Chile, Montevideo, Mexico City, Caracas and New York.

The communist student organization Juntos!, which is based in Sao Paulo, issued a statement calling for turn out in Argentina to protest “Milei and his attacks.”

“If Argentina stops these attacks, it will strengthen the struggle in the entire world against the extreme right, strengthening the class struggle perspective as the path against our enemies,” it said on Facebook.

It was signed by several Marxist organizations, including the Union de Jovenes Comunistas, founded in Havana Cuba on April 4, 1962, just when the Castros were throwing their island nation completely into the Soviet camp, and applying the screws at home to those who disagreed.

This is what is arrayed against Milei, who only took office on December 10. There was no street violence against him in this dry run, but that is not guaranteed going forward. He remains immensely popular, an asset he will need against the organized global forces against him.

This piece originally appeared in Fundacion Disenso, in Spanish