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The achievements of social protests in Latin America

Since 2019, several countries in the region have experienced a series of protests and marches that have shaken national and international politics .

Group of people during a protest

The awakening of the social movement in one country ends up inspiring another. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post| Santiago Goméz Hernández

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Leer en español: Los logros de las protestas sociales en Latinoamérica

Recent social protests throughout Latin America have influenced each other like dominoes. The awakening of the social movement in one country ends up inspiring another.

But what is striking about these protests is that several have achieved various results. Some large, others small, but they have demonstrated the importance of protest in a democracy.

Peru

In 2020, after Congress removed President Martín Vizcarra, the Peruvian people marched and rejected what was considered a "coup d'etat" developed by Congress. After 2 days of protests and 2 dead citizens, the new president (Manuel Merino) had to resign and Francisco Sagasti came to power, which calmed the waters at that time.

Ecuador

The Ecuadorian protests began with the government's announcement that it wanted to eliminate the gasoline subsidy (among other austerity measures). Faced with this scenario in which the price of any other product would be indirectly affected, Ecuadorians took to the streets to raise their voices in protest.

These demonstrations were led by the indigenous movement, transportation, unions and students, and they managed to pressure the Government to the point that after talks, they withdrew Decree 883 that eliminated transportation subsidies.

Bolivia

These demonstrations were quite controversial. After suspicions of fraud in the 2019 presidential elections, in which President Evo Morales was competing, despite having lost a referendum to be able to re-launch his candidacy, many Bolivians marched. Obviously, this social pressure was clouded by the actions of the Military Forces, which carried out a coup d'état, taking Morales into exile and replacing him with the president of Congress, Jeanine Añez on an interim basis.

Argentina

In Argentina, social protest has been one of the pillars on which democracy is based. It has always been present at all times and both the right and the left have protested on different occasions. One of the results that the social movement close to progressive ideals has experienced was the approval of legal abortion.

Also read: Overview of abortion in Latin America

Despite strong opposition that also took to the streets at certain times, the approval of the law is a victory for all the "pro-abortion" demonstrations. And Argentina is now one of the few countries in the region where abortion is legal and "free."

Chile

One of the most ambitious, longest-running and most unspoken protests was that of Chile. That Andean country that has inspired regional capitalists so much exploded after the increase in public transport fares. That alone is enough for a discontent suppressed and encouraged by various international protests (from the yellow vests in Paris, to the protests in Puerto Rico) to take the frustration out onto the streets.

Although the price hike was not big, the average price of the subway ticket in Santiago does greatly exceed the price in other Latin American capitals. What started as a civil disobedience protest and using transportation without paying, ended in one of the largest demonstrations on the continent.

Among the achievements of this movement are: the change of 8 ministers of President Sebastián Piñera (including Interior and Public Security and Finance), the cancellation of the increase in the subway rate, the new social agenda (which seeks to increase the Welfare State ) and the measure of a referendum to elect a new constitution.

Colombia

At the moment, Colombia is in the midst of demonstrations over general discontent with President Iván Duque. It all started in a National Strike due to the Government's Tax Reform project that many considered was hitting the middle class hard.

After several days of protests (peaceful and, to a lesser extent, violent), police violence, and more than 14 confirmed deaths (according to some NGOs there are more than 40), the marches continue.

However, in less than 20 days, they have achieved the withdrawal of the Tax Reform, the resignation of the Minister of Finance and Public Credit (head of the initiative), and the approval of free higher education for the most vulnerable population.

Puerto Rico

This small island experienced one of its most agitated political moments in the summer of 2019. It all began after some conversations leaked by the Governor of the island Ricardo Roselló in which he used derogatory, homophobic, discriminatory, and mocking language towards those affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

In addition to having the support of various figures of Puerto Rican music, the mobilizations achieved the resignation of their president.