Todos los derechos reservados. Read our analysis about the situation in Ecuador here. After months of protests, finally a space for debate about a new constitution has been opened, and important achievements such as a raise in the minimum wage were also gained. Although President Sebastian Pinera canceled the planned hike in subway fares, the violence has only worsened, leading to nearly a dozen deaths. María Victoria Murillo outlines some of the immediate consequences of Covid-19 for democratic governance in Latin America for our “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series. POPAYÁN, Colombia—This nation known as the “Gateway to South America” has become the latest Latin American state to be shaken by widespread, anti-government demonstrations. Every aspect of public life there has been privatized: pensions, health care, education," said Hesse. He condemned the violence seen in Chile, but pointed out that many peaceful protests are being staged by citizens demanding their rights. In Horst's opinion, that's exactly what is happening in Chile. “The popular activism is the most important part,” Zibechi says. Hesse doesn't think so. Throughout the year, malaise in the region increased as did the idea that citizens have the power and capacity to organise themselves and influence the policies of their governments. Indigenous communities in Ecuador have been victims of extractivist exploitation for centuries, and it was also a general rejection of petrol extraction, deforestation, and mining that led them to march last year in Quito. Sometimes protests are continuous but not always frequent. Over the past two weeks, Ecuador and Chile — two Latin American countries separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) — have seen intense anti-government protests. Alvarez disagrees. Michael Alvarez is a spokesman for the Green party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation, and served as the think tank's director in Santiago de Chile for several years. Numerous indigenous communities and other social sectors infuriated by the measures decided to mobilise and travelled to the capital where a violent battle between riot police and protesters began. Over the past two weeks, Ecuador and Chile — two Latin American countries separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) — have seen intense anti-government protests. But, she added, they failed to solve urgent underlying structural problems. But maybe they just aren't because elections are being held on Sunday anyhow," she said. Stay tuned! We use cookies to improve our service for you. Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela: Large parts of Latin America are on fire with protest. Millions of people have taken to the streets to rail against their governments, economic inequality, political corruption and an array of other issues, prompting mass transit breakdowns and a brutal response from police. During his presidency, Evo successfully integrated indigenous and rural groups into Bolivian political life, and he also took a stand against the US and DEA policy of eradication of coca crops, defending its medicinal use by indigenous communities in the country. And, he said, it's not just happening in Chile. They have also made it clear that they demand a more effective response to the climate crisis, and to growing inequalities, that are negatively affecting millions of young people in Latin America and beyond. Why are people protesting in Latin America's most prosperous country? The initially extremely violent reaction of the Chilean government provoked subsequent violent reactions from protesters who began burning metro stations and looting supermarkets. In Colombia, over 500,000 people marched on the 21st of November after various sectors of civil society called a national strike, that has continued intermittently since then, becoming the most important mass mobilization in the previous decades. Armored personnel carriers drove slowly through the streets deploying heavily-armed troops as violence worsened in the capital, Santiago, and across the country. According to the World Bank, in 2018, Haiti had a GDP per capita of only $870 USD, and in a country of 10 million inhabitants, 6 million live in a state of extreme poverty - 60% of the population. Hesse pointed out that much like Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Ecuador's leader, Lenin Moreno, was forced to announce austerity measures — now canceled — because of debt negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. “The people have said ‘enough.’ They do not want to continue to pay the … Over 80 people virtually attended the Roundtable on Protests in Latin America, a Spanish-language webinar hosted by the Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies, on Wednesday, October 7. "Every country in Latin America has its economic differences. During the first two weeks of October, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Quito to express their collective frustration about the aggressive economic measures of Lenin Moreno’s government, who had previously negotiated a set of austerity measures with the IMF that would have negatively affected the most vulnerable of Ecuadorian society. Whether the reforms will stop the general strike planned for Wednesday remains to be seen. If you have any queries about republishing please contact us. Andres Bernal. (22.10.2019), Germany's Social Democrats are calling for nationwide wealth tax. Yet many Chileans have trouble making ends meet, and that has been an important factor in protests there. Huge protests in Latin America on International Women's Day. The social trends behind the protests can be seen in other South American countries, said Valeska Hesse, director of the Latin America office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), a political think tank with ties to Germany's Social Democratic Party. According to the Gini index, the most widely used international measure of inequality - for which the higher the number, the greater the inequality - Chile ranks as the most unequal country among a group of 30 of the world's wealthiest nations. What is happening in Haiti today cannot be understood without also understanding its violent and colonial past, and of course the catastrophic behaviour of the international community providing emergency aid that failed to lift the country out of devastation after the 2010 devastating earthquake, whose aftereffects are still being felt today. But to others, the protests are a sign that the people of Latin America are willing to push back against attempts to shift the fiscal burden on poor and working class people. 277 shares. He told DW that after much social progress in the early 2000s, many Latin American countries are now tightening their belts. It pointed out that poverty levels in Chile had gone down by three percentage points between 2016 and 2019. Latin America’s Wave of Protests Was Historic—Then the Pandemic Arrived The coronavirus and lockdowns have worsened the region’s economic divides—and set the stage for more political upheaval. Although Duque has only been in power for a year and a half, he has a disapproval rating of 69% according to the the last Gallup poll, and 70% of Colombians believe that “things are getting worse” compared with last year. In February of 2019, huge protests against President Jovenel Moïse and Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant erupted in Haiti, after a year of intermittent mobilisations. These protests in Latin America are among those that created the biggest impact throughout 2019. Despite the strict measures, the country has recorded over 1.2 million coronavirus cases, the second-highest figure in Latin America and the seventh … (23.10.2019), © 2020 Deutsche Welle | A series of protests have been escalating across Latin America in recent months. "When left-leaning governments were in power, [there were] many redistribution programs designed to improve the station of poor citizens," said FES expert Valeska Hesse. Regardless, Morales became an extremely divisive figure who gradually began to lose his popular support, and was unable to deal with this. The unrest shows the country's ruling elite are woefully out of touch with ordinary people, says DW's Emilia Rojas-Sasse. Why is the idea gaining momentum, and is it the answer to bridging the growing gap between rich and poor? Now it's Colombia's turn. "Deficits are growing in Ecuador, Argentina and other countries across the region, and governments are not countering that with a systematic overhaul of their tax systems [and] tax reforms.". Until November of 2019, Evo Morales was the longest standing Latin American leader of the 21st century. Dressed in black, marching silently and raising one fist, around a thousand women have demanded justice for those killed during the civil unrest in Chile. Every day, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. Is a wave of social protest about to break over all of Latin America? Ecuador and Chile have been the scenes of anti-government protests in recent weeks, many of which have ended in violence. After meeting with heads of the legislature and judicial system, President Pinera has pledged to seek "solutions" to "reduce excessive inequalities" in the country. A report by The Washington Post published in November also revealed the death tolls for different protests around the world this year. In a country where the monthly wage of 70% of the population is below $700, the announcement of President Piñera that the Santiago metro fare would be rising from 800 to 830 pesos ($1.15) created a social explosion that would turn out to be extremely difficult to contain. Read more about Evo Morales and the current situation in Bolivia here. Many Chileans were on a long holiday weekend and the latest protest was relatively small compared to previous efforts. Chile is one the champion of neoliberal countries of the region, and throughout the previous decades, it has failed to eradicate poverty with its privatisation policies and cuts in public services, and it’s estimated that 36% of the urban population live in extreme poverty. In reality, it was a protest against low pensions, high gas and electricity bills, and unaffordable social services such as health and education that were inherited from an ultra neoliberal dictatorship lead by general Pinochet in the 1980s. The Americas. ", Read more: Berlin's new rent freeze: How it compares globally. Leer en español There is a rage brewing in Latin America. "Economic hardship has focused protesters' anger onto related issues such as inequality and corruption," they wrote. Aware that they don’t live in real democracies, the people of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia are taking to the streets. These protests in Latin America are among those that created the biggest impact throughout 2019. 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