Argentina's Congress on late Thursday approved a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to refinance a $45-billion debt amid protests.
Following a heated debate at the congress, the lawmakers voted 56 to 13 with three abstentions to approve the IMF deal which needs to be signed by the president to enter into force.
Last week, in the lower Chamber of Deputies the lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal.
The approval okays a deal to refinance the debt from 2018 when Argentina originally received a historic $57-billion loan during the presidency of Mauricio Macri to tackle a deep economic crisis.
While the IMF deal was being discussed in the Congress, there were demonstrations around the National Congress building in the capital Buenos Aires.
Following a call of left-wing groups, hundreds of people protested the government's agreement with the IMF and refused to pay debts to the Washington-based lender.
Argentina’s Economy Minister Martin Guzman defended the deal with a series of tweets. “Without an agreement, it was impossible to pay,” Guzman said.
“Our responsibility was to give peace of mind and certainty of direction,” he added.
“We achieved a radically different agreement from all those that have been historically reached with the IMF. There is no removal of rights for workers or retirees,” he said.
In March, Argentine’s President Alberto Fernandez told congress that the IMF agreement was the best deal that could be achieved, providing certainties for Argentines by avoiding the potential impact of a default -- with payments set to begin in 2026 and finish in 2034.