Why Do They Protest?

By Angel Guerra Cabrera on November 27, 2019

Photo: Esteban Felix

So-called experts in the mainstream hegemonic media are trying to find an explanation for radical social protests, some of them huge, throughout Our American geography. They say that inequality and poverty are pending issues in Latin America and the Caribbean; that the so-called political class has divorced from the population; that there is a deficit of democracy; that there isn’t a strong institutional system and this favors corruption and impunity; that the widespread lack of education and labor opportunities among the youth fosters dissent; that new information technologies have interconnected the planet, raising the expectation of  better living conditions expectations that governments do not have the capacity to fulfill.

All these problems exist indeed and they lead to injustice or conflicts but they are doubtlessly only the harmful effects caused by other larger structural problems. Some insist that reaching a general diagnosis of what is going on is impossible. It’s true that there are a wide diversity problems. Each country has its own problems demanding particular measures to solve them. But it does not entail that there are not structural problems equally endured by countries like Mexico, Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, just to mention those where people have recently rebelled against general existing living conditions, or through the vote—Mexico and Argentina—or through strong demonstrations in the streets demanding human rights and condemning the prevailing system that infringes on them.

The serious methodological problem of blaming the above mentioned problems for the Latin-Caribbean peoples’ tragedy is that the main and pressing aspect of its origin is being obviated, and that is the subordination of our economies, finances, technology, and political models to the imperialism’s global control system, commanded by the United States. This is immediately interrelated to the imposition of capitalist accumulation patterns in force in every historic stage in the countries of Our America. It’s necessary to insist on that this accumulation pattern is the neoliberal model, initially imposed by fire and sword in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and rapidly spread and was ruthlessly imposed in our region in the subsequent decades—except for Cuba, where Fidel and his people resolutely refused to accept it. Another correlation is the global pro-fascist wave coming from Washington’s crisis of hegemony and its fear to stop being the only power in control. Neoliberalism entailed and entails represents a huge looting of the fruits of our people’s labor by means of a foreign debt; privatizing public ventures and assets among friends; the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund over economies and people’s lives, reinforced on the sophism of the central banks’ independence; free speculative flow of capital, which has destroyed local economies repeatedly; reducing and privatizing government offices previously aimed at meeting public services while disproportionately increasing security forces and their budgets; socializing capital losses.  This is banking “rescue”; wage restraint and privatizing pension funds, leading to a constant deterioration of workers and retirees’ incomes; lack of education opportunities and increasing unemployment, cancelling social mobility; dismantling the peasantry, losing food sovereignty, instating junk food, and a rising public health crisis. Systematic aggression to ecosystems due to mining, intensive agriculture and projects without environmental protection. To sum it up, an increasing transference of wealth to the one percent by an unlimited plundering of the overwhelming majority, and rampant aggression to human life and other species.

This tragedy of substantial proportion explains the social unrest storming our region, though it is also prefiguring in rich countries. It’s no coincidence that the most extraordinarily, creatively and fiercely repressed protest is precisely in Chile, where the greatest economic success and the most consolidated democracy had allegedly been achieved. But repression, more and more ruthlessly, appears wherever there is unrest, as it recently happened in Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. Honduras’ case was the guinea pig in this cruel repressive cycle since the coup d’état staged against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Bolivia’s case is totally outrageous because people are rebelling against a fascist coup d’état made in the United States, seeking to end  the most successful model of economic development, social justice, and political democracy in our region.

Source: Pupila Insomne, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau