An anti-government protester waves a Chilean flag in Santiago, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

Chile witnessed the largest protests in its history last weekend, with more than 1 million people filling the streets of Santiago to demand the government deal with economic inequality and the high cost of living—and to express their outrage over the authorities’ repression of an initial wave of protests earlier this month. For a moment, the massive demonstrations seemed like the climax to a movement that began two weeks ago in response to a subway fare hike, and that had seemed to be on the cusp of fizzling out. Instead, protests have continued this week, and more are planned for […]

Claudia Lopez celebrates her victory in Bogota's mayoral election, Oct. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Ivan Valencia).

Recent elections in Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay have added to the sense that South America is at a turning point, as mass protests have erupted in Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia. Something is indeed happening in the region, but those who claim that this is the return of the “pink tide”—the period in the early 2000s when leftist governments were sweeping to power—are missing the point. What is unfolding is not a counter-reformation, with the left reemerging after it was toppled and replaced by the right. It is something more subtle and potentially more lasting. South America is entering a post-ideological […]

An anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

From Lebanon and Iraq to Ecuador and Chile, popular protests have shaken governments and captured the imagination of pundits worldwide in the past few weeks. Combined with the mass demonstrations that forced regimes in Algeria and Sudan to cast aside longtime leaders earlier this year, as well as the Yellow Vest movement that stunned France from December 2018 through the late spring, some observers are wondering whether we are witnessing a revolutionary moment of global proportions. Has popular dissatisfaction with the unfair distribution of globalization’s spoils reached a tipping point? Or are these protests locally driven, offering little or no […]

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, with Democratic lawmakers and supporters, speaks about their opposition to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 25, 2019 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

A quarter of a century after labor standards first became a bone of contention in trade talks to conclude the North American Free Trade Agreement, weak enforcement of labor standards in Mexico is one of the key issues holding up a vote on President Donald Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA, now rebranded the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Every U.S. trade agreement since NAFTA has included language nominally aimed at protecting workers. Yet despite significant strengthening over the years, the labor provisions in those trade agreements remain controversial and largely ineffective for foreign and American workers alike. NAFTA was only the third free trade […]

An anti-government protester waves a Chilean flag during clashes with police amid a general strike in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Luis Hidalgo).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the protest movements in Lebanon and Chile, and the challenges they face in trying to bring down entrenched elites. They also discuss Bolivia’s contested presidential election and the implications for President Evo Morales’ legacy. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three more […]

Daniel Martinez, the candidate for the ruling Broad Front coalition, left, and Luis Lacalle Pou, the candidate for the center-right National Party, right, at a televised debate in Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Santiago Mazzarovich).

Given everything else around it—from political turmoil in Brazil under President Jair Bolsonaro and sudden street protests in Chile to a fiercely contested election in Bolivia and a likely change of government in Argentina’s upcoming polls—Uruguay’s general elections Sunday may easily pass under the radar. Yet the vote on Oct. 27, set to be Uruguay’s closest in 15 years, could end a long period of leftist governance in this famously liberal country of 3.5 million people, further tilting South America to the right. Conducted under a shadow of rising violent crime and sluggish GDP growth, the elections also coincide with […]

Clouds of smoke from burning cars mar the skyline of Culiacan, Mexico, Oct. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Hector Parra).

The city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state in northern Mexico, looked like a war zone last week as heavily armed members of the notorious Sinaloa cartel attacked Mexican security forces trying to arrest Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Residents dodged bullets and burning buses as gunmen besieged the city. Guzman Lopez has helped lead the Sinaloa cartel since his father’s arrest in 2016. The brazen attack in broad daylight left at least eight people dead, including a member of Mexico’s National Guard, and injured dozens more. Outmanned and outgunned, […]

A protester faces off with an armored police vehicle during an anti-government march in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Until just a few days ago, Chile probably looked to most people like the most stable country in Latin America, and the least likely to erupt in massive social unrest. Few if any countries in the region have experienced decades of economic growth and an expansion of the middle class, alongside reliably fair and competitive elections. And yet last week, the streets of Santiago became the scene of violent clashes between thousands of protesters and security forces, leaving more than a dozen people dead and hundreds arrested. In response, President Sebastian Pinera deployed the military, imposed curfews and announced a […]

A supporter of Cristina Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner holds up a flag featuring their portraits during a campaign rally for the leading opposition ticket, in Santa Rosa, Argentina, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Argentina will hold a general election Sunday, but a struggling economy means the odds are stacked heavily against incumbent President Mauricio Macri. One out of 10 working-age Argentines are unemployed, and the annual inflation rate stands at more than 50 percent. GDP contracted by 2.5 percent in 2018 and by another 2.5 percent during the first half of this year. Macri’s best hope is to force a runoff, but opposition presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, look likely to win outright in the first round of voting. This is not the first economic crisis […]

An anti-government protester waves a national flag in Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

After nearly two weeks of paralyzing and deadly protests in Ecuador, the streets of Quito rang out in celebration Sunday night. The demonstrations, led by indigenous groups, had succeeded in pressuring President Lenin Moreno to reinstate a popular fuel subsidy he had removed on Oct. 2 as part of an austerity package backed by the International Monetary Fund. “Victory for the popular struggle!” wrote Jaime Vargas, the head of the country’s largest indigenous coalition, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE, on Twitter. Moreno said the subsidy cuts were necessary under the requirements of a $4.2 billion loan […]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reads a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Politics was always going to play an outsized role in congressional deliberations on the revised NAFTA deal—now known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA—as it does with most trade agreements. Assuming that President Donald Trump addresses their concerns about labor standards in Mexico and other issues, House Democrats will have to decide whether to give the president a “big win” that he can trumpet in next year’s election. Trump will have to decide whether he’d rather have that or, by refusing to accommodate their demands, a stick with which to beat up the Democrats as do-nothing partisans. The impeachment inquiry […]

People watch smoke billowing from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Elliot Waldman and Laura Weiss talk about U.S. sanctions targeting Chinese government entities and businesses involved in human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang. They also discuss what is driving protests in Ecuador, and why U.S. President Donald Trump’s greenlighting of a Turkish incursion into Syria could end up being a catastrophic error. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The […]

Activists participate in a global protest on climate change, in La Paz, Bolivia, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When wildfires started raging out of control in the Amazon in September, the entire world took notice of Brazil and the refusal of its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, to accept international assistance to put out the blazes. But a similar disaster may end up having a greater political impact in neighboring Bolivia, where fires have consumed some 10 million acres in the past few months. Socialist President Evo Morales’ tepid response has infuriated Bolivians, just days before a controversial presidential election. The magnitude of the anger became palpable Friday, when Bolivians turned out in huge numbers to protest against Morales’ […]

Police form a line outside a church during a demonstration urging the government to free political prisoners, in Masaya, Nicaragua, Aug. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Alfredo Zuniga).

In late September, El Nuevo Diario, Nicaragua’s second-largest newspaper by circulation, announced that it would shut down after nearly 40 years in print due to “economic, technical and logistical difficulties.” “We didn’t know anything. It took us by surprise,” Eliud Garmendia, a journalist with El Nuevo Diario, told the Nicaraguan online news outlet Confidencial. The paper’s closure, while sudden, was not entirely unexpected. For months, the Nicaraguan government has refused to release vital supplies like paper and ink from the state customs agency, forcing El Nuevo Diario to stop printing on weekends and reduce its page-count, according to Lori Hanson, […]

Bolivian President Evo Morales looks out of a plane window to survey the damage from forest fires that raged in the Charagua province of Bolivia, Aug. 27, 2019 (AP pool photo by David Mercado).

Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians marched Friday to protest President Evo Morales’ handling of forest fires that had been burning out of control for weeks. A similar situation in Brazil raised international pressure on that country’s controversial far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Morales has so far escaped international scrutiny over the issue, even as it has begun take on more prominence in the run-up to elections on Oct. 20. The protests in Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz, followed Morales’ appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in late September, where he assured his global counterparts that his government would fulfill its […]

People line up with their vehicles to load up on fuel at a gas station in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Ismael Francisco).

Venezuela’s economic collapse and Washington’s new sanctions on companies shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba have plunged the island nation into its most severe energy crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. In response, Havana is looking to its old ally Russia to plug the hole in energy supplies left by the decline in Venezuelan shipments. But the crisis is hampering plans to implement economic reforms that Havana hopes will respond to popular demands for economic liberalization while retaining the Communist Party’s political dominance. Visiting Cuba last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised that Russia would […]

Parade participants wave flowers as they march next to a float commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the recent protests in Egypt and what the government crackdown against them says about President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s hold on power. They also discuss the background of Peru’s constitutional crisis and the contradictions on display during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Republic of China. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers […]

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