Latin America is in crisis

The last weeks have been critical for the region in political, social, economic and even environmental matters

Police force dissipating protests in Santiago de Chile.

Police force dissipating protests in Santiago de Chile. / Photo: acn.cu

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: América Latina está en crisis

Ecuador's protests with the rise in the price of gasoline woke up a latent problem in Latin America to the media: the economies do not take off, political changes have unhappy populations and internal problems have unleashed a wave of nonconformity in society. Consequently, people have risen and many have taken the streets to demand from governments changes and responses.

Among these acts, the most prominent in recent days have been the demonstrations in Chile. What began as a protest - mostly youth - for the rise in the price of subway tickets, became a wave of disagreements ranging from education to health and pensions.

Days of curfew and military presence in the streets have taken the cities of Chile, which has inevitably brought back memories of a bygone era in the Pinochet dictatorship. Thus, the protests that began as a symbolic movement in the subway stations became massive peaceful and violent marches, looting and military abuse.

When it was thought that the protests in Ecuador, in which the president had to declare a state of emergency, were one of the most impressive mass samples of the last time in the region, chaos came to Chile.

Although the curfew, the military presence and the violent actions of some have been striking in the midst of the crisis, many citizens have peacefully engaged in protests so that the eyes do not deviate and focus in the problems of the country.

Read also: Situation in Chile is aggravated under military control

With signs like “It's not for 30 pesos, it's for 30 years” (referring to the 30 pesos that increased the subway ticket) and “until dignity becomes customary,” President Sebastián Piñera has been cornered in a problem that has gotten out of control. At the regional level, other citizens in networks have raised their voices to defend the Chilean people and celebrate that they do not remain silent in the face of what is happening in their country.

Meanwhile, last Sunday's elections in Bolivia also brought demonstrations for and against current President Evo Morales, who is in search of a new reelection.

"We won with more than 10%, it is constitutional," because the difference with his opponent, Carlos Mesa, was 10.56%, and that would avoid going to a second round. However, the discontent is that the results have been described as fraudulent, which Morales has claimed is an attempted coup d'état of the opposition.

Faced with this position, the contender Mesa called on the Bolivian people to protest peacefully for a second round. The results of the scrutiny were 99.9%, but the opposition alleges that the last remaining percentage could affect so that the difference of 10% was not achieved.

The Organization of American States (OAS) has said that an audit must be completed to determine the legitimacy of the elections. But, even so, together with the European Union, they affirmed that it is better for the second round, because that would create a sense of confidence in Bolivians.

The reactions have led to peaceful and violent demonstrations throughout the country. Opponents say there is fraud and there has to be a second round. For their part, those who support Evo Morales have also taken to the streets to fight for democracy, as they ensure legitimacy in the results.

Read also: Evo Morales attacks the opposition

Other elections are at the door of the corner of Latin America and are those of Argentina and Uruguay: each one as controversial as the other. Today, Sunday, October 27, both countries will decide who will be their president for the next few years and both could have a shocking break in governments from left to right (in Uruguay) or from right to left (in Argentina)

As for Uruguay, the Clean Front coalition, of which former president Pepe Mujica is a reference, has been in power for 15 years under different figures. The coalition is made up of different trends and ideologies, which has presented both challenges and benefits in the years it has been in power.

However, and although it tends to the left, it has generally had good acceptance in the country. Even during the previous periods they also had a majority in Parliament, which had meant great ease in governing.

Nowadays things have changed and the elections could take a 180º turn. The true opinion is expected to be in the second round, on November 24, in which Daniel Martínez, of the coalition, would face one of the opponents, which would bring the entire population "anti-Clean Front". Either way, according to BBC, analysts have assured that this will win the coalition again, they will lose a majority in Parliament, thus creating new challenges for the future president.

Argentina is also in a power struggle between the left and the right. On the one hand, the current president Mauricio Macri has launched for re-election, with his flag - at a glance failed - to save the economy of the country, and on the other hand Álvaro Fernández with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his Vice Presidential formula, which represents the left but carries with it a distrust for alleged corruption.

Macri tried to curb the economic decline in which the country has been for years. However, its promises were in vain because today the country is still marked “by the recession, a galloping inflation and a general distrust of investors as a result of the deterioration of its main indicators,” said BBC.

All this could point to Macri not having a good future in the elections that will be held, but maybe not. The current president's contender is CFK, although the presidential figure is Álvaro Fernández, he does not have many happy Argentines either. The truth is that much of the current economic crisis in Argentina, which Macri has not been able to contain, comes from the Fernández de Kirchner government (2007-2015). On the other hand, corruption issues that revolve around the former president and the perception of a populist left also do not help the opposition.

Also read: "Yes, we can", Macri doesn't give up

As if that were not enough, Latin America is also in an environmental crisis, which has not stopped since the massive fire in the Amazon, "the lung of the world." Oil stains have reached the beaches of Brazil, polluting more than 2,500 km of coastline and affecting dozens of animals.

The first indication of this was months ago, in August, but according to Flávio Lima, an expert from the State University of Rio Grande do Norte, to the BBC, “in the history of Brazil, from the point of view of the marine environment, we have no record of such an incident ... a very large magnitude".

Although the cause is not yet known, if it has been an accidental leak or propitiated criminally, but the density of the spots has given them clues that it can come from Venezuelan oil. Although the director of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has denied it, the truth is that the damage has been witnessed repeatedly in recent months and could bring greater damage. Both military and volunteer citizens are cleaning the beaches and a research team has been assigned to get to know the origin.

Mexico has also given to talk about in recent days as cases of violence and drug trafficking have worsened in the country. Culiacán was the scene of one of the most controversial operations in the history of Mexico, where the son of 'Chapo', Ovidio Guzmán, was captured and later released by the authorities. On the same days, violent attacks in other cities by different mafias have endangered citizens and members of the public force.

Meanwhile, Mexico City has witnessed a constant stoppage of transporters, who claim, on the one hand, the price of gasoline. On the other hand, taxi drivers have taken the main roads of the city to reach the Zocalo (Historic Center), to demand fair competition with respect to apps such as Uber and Beat.

Read also: A week of drug trafficking and crime in Central America

The truth is that Latin America, as complex as it is diverse, is suffering a crisis that looks its way in each country and under different problems. The people of each country have risen against the government, in some cases more than in others, to demand that their rights be respected and that governments keep their promises.

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