2019 Latin American protests

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2019 Latin America protests
Part of Latin American Spring
Latin american protests montage.png
Clockwise from top left:
Protesters in La Paz, Bolivia on 23 October 2019;
Workers marching in Cali, Colombia during the 21 November general strike and subsequent protests;
Crowds gathered in downtown Santiago, Chile on 25 October 2019;
Protesters in Quito, Ecuador;
Protesters gathered in Caracas, Venezuela on 23 January 2019
Caused by

The 2019 Latin American protests, also called Primavera Latinoamericana ("Latin American Spring"),[1][2][3] are a series of escalating examples of civil disobedience in various countries across Latin America protesting against austerity measures and political corruption in the region, described in several sources as a "wave".[a] The Guardian discussed different opinions on whether the wave of protests constituted a "Latin American spring";[5] by November 2019, media outlets were using the term more widely.[8][9][10] It is a wave of the greater Latin American Spring that has been causing unrest around the region since 2014.

Protests were triggered by a build-up of perceived antisocial government actions negatively impacting citizens, particularly financially, during a period of austerity following early-2000s prosperity across Latin America. The influence to protest at such large scales has been suggested to come from a widespread fear of economic and social crises caused by government actions, and dissatisfaction at political responses. This fear may be influenced by the crisis in Venezuela.[11]

Though developing separately throughout the year, by October large protests were occurring routinely across several Latin American countries.

The anti-corruption side of the wave was first reported on in June 2018, when it was suggested to have begun as early as 2016;[12] another report suggests 2015.[13]

Regional catalysts[edit]

Historically, Latin America has seen two such similar periods of unified protests: during severe austerity in the 1980s and again during economic and political crises from 1998 to 2002.[5]

Valeska Hesse, director of the Latin America office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, suggested that the "social trends" leading to protesting in certain areas of Latin America were consistent throughout many countries in the region.[4] Deutsche Welle describes one of these risk factors as the "extreme inequality between rich and poor [that] can be seen in many countries across the continent", noting that Latin American countries occupy eight of the top ten spots in the list of most economically unequal.[4]

Many observers, however, suggest that the strongest cause of protests, and a unifying element unique to Latin America, is a period of economic downturn and/or instability following a boom in the early years of the 21st century; they report that though Latin America comprises countries of varying wealth and political leanings, its shared regional history gives this protest-fueling background.[4][5][7][11]

On another side, Mac Margolis, in an opinion piece for Bloomberg, suggests that many of the nations fall into this category but that Chile, with a reasonably stable economic history, does not, instead positing a different connecting factor in what he describes as a "willful technocracy" seen among all of Latin America's leaders; he explains that they use international economic advice to implement measures with short-term detriments, and respond negatively to public questioning.[6] Margolis also discusses "[h]arsh fiscal measures and feckless management", and "a bum economy and a widening gap between poverty and plenty" as causes for protests across Latin America, exempting Chile.[6]

Michael Alvarez, a spokesperson for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, also suggests that there was an improvement in social equality alongside that of the economy, and that this has equally slumped, saying that "people in Latin America are no longer willing to accept social inequality".[4] An expert speaking to Deutsche Welle also suggested that an aim of the protests is more social destabilization than seeking any true improvements, a theory rejected by other experts.[4]

Michael Reid proposed the economic nosedive as the cause of protests, but told The Guardian that the region was more complex, noting this as only the first of three catalysts; the others are "public rage against Latin America's political machine after a wave of corruption scandals that have discredited traditional political elites, sparked furious protests in countries including Peru and Haiti, and propelled a new generation of populists to power in Brazil and Mexico" and, for certain "radical" protestors emerging in Ecuador and Chile, the dedication of the yellow vests movement and the "frontliners", a group of 20 police fighters in Hong Kong.[5]

The various commenters on the wave of protests also present the belief that while several of the protests were triggered for diverse and seemingly trivial reasons, these trigger points were considered the final straw in a build-up of small actions of perceived mismanagement and repression;[5][6][7][11] Bloomberg appends in particular that "Latin America has a history of exploding unrest when prices go up for essential services and products, which are often subsidized and subject to price distortions".[11]

Colombian experts criticize the statements from leaders in countries of protest which suggest that Venezuelan and Cuban meddling is deliberately sowing unrest across the region.[14] In October, disputed Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro claimed that he influenced protests and that "the plan is going exactly as [they] hoped" to destabilize "all of Latin America and the Caribbean".[15] Commenters describe this as an attempt to appear more powerful than he really is as Venezuela began mass protests again.[15]

Protest actions[edit]

The Associated Press described protests within the wave as having the key signature of arson, as well as often being more violent than typical.[7] Despite differing levels of economic and social security, the protests are the same in all countries.[16]

Affected countries[edit]

Countries with protests marked in red

Reports agree that protests in Haiti, Ecuador, and Bolivia are certainly within the Latin American wave.[b] The first incidence of violence was reported in Haiti on 11 February with 4 people getting killed on the first day of the anti government riots.[17] Most also definitively include Chile; it is attached only tentatively by Mac Margolis.[6] Margolis also lists 2019 protests in Honduras and Argentina as part of the wave;[6] Valeska Hesse discounts Argentina prior to 27 October,[4] though it is included by Bloomberg because of "voters revolt[ing] against President Mauricio Macri's budget-cutting agenda" in the summer.[11] Within Latin American media, Peru, Uruguay,[18] Puerto Rico, and Guatemala[19] have been included in accounts of the wave.

Reports on the wave of protests sometimes exclude the 2019 protests in Venezuela.[c] Similarly, protests occurred in Brazil through 2019, but were mostly challenging the government's environmental policies during the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires.[20] In light of the other nearby protests, Brazilian congressman David Miranda wrote in The Guardian in November that though people in the country have the same motivations, they recognize that protests would do harm in Brazil, as President Jair Bolsonaro would use unrest as justification to implement a military dictatorship.[21] Before Mexico began protesting against unfair policies, it saw protests through the year, but these were part of the "Glitter Revolution" to denounce violence against women in the country.[22][23][24]

Student protests broke out in Colombia after a September corruption scandal; in mid-November these protests grew into larger public strikes, influenced by the protests nearby.[25] When hundreds of thousands of people began protesting in Chile and Colombia, generally peaceful and safe countries in Latin America, in October and November 2019, respectively, it was asserted that the protests across the continent are of the same mindset and triggered by each other; commenters suggested that after Chile, it was likely the entire region would soon follow.[10][15][26]

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Guatemala[27][28][29][30][clarification needed]
Puerto Rico

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Including Deutsche Welle,[4] The Guardian,[5] Mac Margolis writing for Bloomberg,[6] and the Associated Press.[7]
  2. ^ As in [a] and other sources.
  3. ^ For example, Venezuela's issues are mentioned in the Associated Press article about the wave of protests, but only as a direct source for issues in Haiti.[7]


  1. ^ "¿Podemos hablar de una "Primavera Latinoamericana" en Anticorrupción?". Foro Económico Mundial. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Colombia y la primavera latinoamericana". Las2orillas (in Spanish). 22 October 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  3. ^ Angoso, Ricardo (28 October 2019). "¿Llegó la 'primavera latinoamericana'?". Diario16 (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "South America's protests fueled by 'extreme' social inequality". Deutsche Welle. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Phillips, Tom (24 October 2019). "An explosion of protest, a howl of rage – but not a Latin American spring". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Margolis, Mac (23 October 2019). Gibney, James (ed.). "Opinion | Chile's Protests Aren't Like Other Latin American Protests". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Is boom, then slump, behind fiery Latin American protests?". AP News. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  8. ^ Faiola, Anthony. "How to make sense of the many protests raging across South America". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Morales' exit stymies comeback for Latin America's left". AP NEWS. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  10. ^ a b "If Chile Can Erupt Over Inequality, Anywhere Can". World Politics Review. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e Spinetto, Juan Pablo (20 October 2019). "Political Risk Is Revived in Latin America as Protests Spread". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  12. ^ Petersen, German (1 June 2018). "Analysis | Latin Americans are protesting — and throwing out — corrupt regimes. Why now?". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  13. ^ Simon, Roberto Simon (5 February 2019). "The Changing Face of Anti-Corruption Protests in Latin America". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Venezuela has no role in Latin America protests: expert". www.aa.com.tr. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Naím, Moisés; Winter, Brian (13 November 2019). "Why Latin America Was Primed to Explode". ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Latin America faces a second 'lost decade'". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Deadly anti-government riots rock Haiti - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  18. ^ Graf, Carly (27 October 2019). "Protests engulf Latin America, but don't oversimplify, experts say". Buenos Aires Times. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  19. ^ Wyss, Jim; Charles, Jacqueline (17 October 2019). "Latin America awash in troubles amid protests, uprisings and a distracted Washington". Miami Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  20. ^ Phillips, Dom (24 August 2019). "Brazilian protesters rail against Bolsonaro as Amazon fires rage on". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  21. ^ Miranda, David (21 November 2019). "Bolsonaro wants to end democracy in Brazil. Here's one way he could do it | David Miranda". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  22. ^ Phillips, Tom (26 August 2019). "Mexico's 'glitter revolution' targets violence against women". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Demonstrators in Mexico Protest the Daily Killing of Women and Girls". Time. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Mexico's Glitter Revolution: How Should Women Protest?". Merion West. 22 August 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  25. ^ Bhaumik, Sanoja (18 November 2019). "As Colombia faces nationwide strike Nov.21, why are students protesting?". The City Paper Bogotá. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  26. ^ "With nationwide strike, Colombia joins South America's season of protest". The Washington Post. 21 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Thousands of Guatemalans protest in support of anti-corruption commission". Los Angeles Times. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  28. ^ Figueroa, Sonny. "Guatemalan Activists Protest Migrant Asylum Pact With US". NBC 10 Philadelphia. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Guatemala's congress approves state of siege despite protests". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Guatemala shut down its anti-corruption commission. Now its people worry about impunity". Public Radio International. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  31. ^ "Venezuela sea aid bid puts quiet Curacao in spotlight". France 24. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Protests underway outside House in Belmopan". Breaking Belize News-The Leading Online News Source of Belize. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  33. ^ Londoño, Ernesto; Carneri, Santi (22 April 2019). "In Paraguay, Fighting Graft With Eggs and Toilet Paper". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Paraguayan president's popularity plummets amid Brazil-linked political crisis". Reuters. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Army deployed in Honduras after violent protests". BBC. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  36. ^ Reuters (7 August 2019). "Honduras protesters calling on president to quit clash with riot police". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Protests in Honduras Turn Violent". Bloomberg L.P. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  38. ^ "Guyana's Main Opposition Stage Protest Against Rumoured House-To-House Registration". Pride News. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  39. ^ "Guyanese protest Guyana's illegal Govt". Guyana Times. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  40. ^ Argentines protest in Buenos Aires against Macri's policies, Agence France Press, 28 August 2019, retrieved 28 October 2019
  41. ^ "'The situation is dire': Argentines protest over food crisis". Al Jazeera. 13 September 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  42. ^ "Uruguay farmers gathered in Montevideo to protest against the government: clashes with the police". MercoPress. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  43. ^ O'Boyle, Brendan (23 October 2019). "Why Uruguayans Are Also in the Streets". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  44. ^ Pribble, Jennifer; Fern; Rosenblatt, o. "Analysis | Uruguay's Sunday runoff election may bring down the ruling party". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  45. ^ Dominguez, Claudia; Lewis, Aimee (1 October 2019). "Protests in Peru as country is thrown into political uncertainty". CNN. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  46. ^ "Mexican Congress Approves Budget After Protests". The New York Times. 22 November 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 November 2019.

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