Around the world, protests are raging, and Latin America and the Caribbean is no exception. In the past month violent protests have consumed countries like Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Haiti. At the center of all protests are the always lingering corruption and inequality woes that have plagued the region. Even countries like Chile, often viewed as the example for economic and political stability in Latin America, aren’t immune to these issues.
What first started as student-led protests following the announcement of increases to Santiago’s subway fare in Chile, has now expanded to nation-wide protests rejecting the social order in the country. Citizens are fed up with the country’s high levels of inequality and an unresponsive “establishment” that has failed to fulfill its promises. Riots in Santiago have left more than half of the subway system destroyed, damages worth up to $200 million. To make matters worse, the poor handling of protests and declaration by President Sebastián Piñera that the government “is at war,” have widened the division among Chileans. Following the protests, Piñera announced a reversal of the fare hike as well as the creation of a working group to address the concerns of citizens, but more will need to be done to try to fix Chile’s deeply fractured society.
In Ecuador, after President Lenín Moreno announced austerity measures, including the end of decades-old fuel subsidies to meet the requirements of a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, people took to the streets to show their displeasure. Ecuador’s transportation unions were the first to mobilize, but were later joined by the country’s indigenous groups—who would have been the demographic most affected by hikes in fuel prices—in blocking roads, taking control of oil fields and even holding police and journalists hostage. After twelve days of protests Moreno reached a deal with indigenous protestors to reverse the policy on fuel subsidies in exchange for an end to demonstrations. But now those talks appear to be on hold after the government announced an investigation into Jaime Vargas, the leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador.
In Haiti, protests, now in their sixth week, have almost entirely shutdown the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince. Since the resignation of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant in July 2018, the country has been deep in a political crisis with no end in sight. Now, ignited by the country’s severe energy shortages, harsh levels of inflation and widespread corruption, demonstrators have taken to the street and are calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse—who has told protesters he would not step down from office.
And now, as the results of Bolivia’s presidential election are being disputed, thousands of people are taking over the streets across the nation. Irregularities in the election process—including the backtracking by election officials of preliminary results that pointed toward a runoff election between President Evo Morales and his main challenger Carlos Mesa, and the failure to update reporting of results for approximately 24 hours—have put in question Morales’ victory. Unsatisfied with the outcome, Mesa, along with union leaders and civil society, called for general strikes to dispute the results. For his part, Morales accused opposition leaders and foreign powers of attempting a “coup” and has also called for demonstrations in his favor.