Cuenca High Life logo

Latin America News

Protests continue to paralyze Bolivia, Colombia and Chile despite government concessions

Mass protests, many of them violent, continue to rage in Bolivia, Chile and Colombia despite calls for elections and dialog. According to the United Nations, 58 people have died in the three countries since late October and more than 4,000 have been seriously injured.

Protesters burn trash in a Valparaiso, Chile street on Tuesday.

On Friday, Bolivia’s interim government accused former President Evo Morales of “terrorism and rebellion” for his alleged role in encouraging and planning violence in the country. Morales was removed from office in a military coup on November 11.

Most of Bolivia’s largest cities have been paralyzed by demonstrations and road blocks, with the capital of La Paz, virtually isolated. The government said that fuel and food supplies could run out next week if roadways are not cleared. Although the country’s main international airport in El Alto remains open, most flights have been cancelled because of the blockages.

Sponsored ad

Morales, who fled to Mexico under a grant of asylum, called the charges against him “laughable and absurd” and said that “the junta that received only four percent of the vote in the last election has no legitimacy.”

The protests began following the October 20 national elections in which Morales appeared to have won another term as president by a narrow margin. Many questioned the vote count including the American Organization of American States, which said its review found “irregularities.”

As of Friday night, the UN says 30 people have died in the Bolivian protests.

The interim government says it will call new national elections within 90 days but has not set a date.

Protests in Chile enter their fifth week despite the government’s concessions to roll back a public transportation fare hike and hold a referendum on a new constitution. Leaders of the protests say that larger issues are at the base of the unrest, particularly economic inequality and control of public resources by the country’s rich.

Police fire tear gas at Medellin, Colombia protesters on Friday.

On Thursday and Friday, large parts of Santiago remained isolated by road blocks and public transportation has been mostly disabled due to damage to buses and city’s subway system. A number of highways around the country have been blocked and the government warns of shortages of basic supplies, including food and gasoline.

At least 24 have died in the Chilean protests while more than 2,000 have been injured. The government reports that 450 have been arrested for vandalism and terrorism.

In Colombia, the latest country to be hit by mass protests, officials report four dead, including three police officers killed in an explosion, and hundreds injured in two days of protests. In addition to wealth inequality, protests are aimed at recent roll-backs of labor regulations,  cutbacks in pensions, lack of employment for the country’s indigenous and poor population and the government’s inability to stop violence against rural community leaders. The country’s murder rate, second only to Venezuela’s in South America, is rising in major cities.

On Friday, the mayor of Bogota imposed a nighttime curfew in hopes of reducing violence and vandalism. Cali’s mayor had ordered a curfew on Thursday and the municipal government in Medellin is considering doing the same. Several news media reported that the curfews in Bogota and Cali are being ignored.

In a televised speech Friday, President Duque said a “national conversation” would take place regionally and include all social and political groups.

“Starting next week, I will launch a national conversation to strengthen the current social policy agenda, working in a united way with medium- and long-term vision, which will allow us to close the social and economic gaps,” he said.

South America’s wave of protests began in early October in Ecuador but ended 10 days later when the government agreed to drop its plan to eliminate subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuel.

53 thoughts on “Protests continue to paralyze Bolivia, Colombia and Chile despite government concessions

  1. Wow. Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a buddy that maybe I should move to Chile or Colombia. I’m glad I decided to stay put.

  2. Morales won by a narrow margin, did he? Hmmm…that’s not true, judging from many other reliable reports. He won enough votes in the first round to win the election outright without runoff voting. Now what IS true, is that this event in
    Bolivia was a coup. LOL. But seriously, it’s not funny and I hope expats enjoying life in beautiful Ecuador will find a constructive way to join our Latin and indigenous brothers and sisters in solidarity.

  3. My concern is that resources that could advance the poor is going to go to rebuild the damage they do. I think the protestors are defeating themselves. Violent demonstrations might get more visibility but deteriorates to mob rule. Persistent peaceful will achieve the same. Latin America needs help from outside. Right now, they are scaring it away. My 2cents.

    1. I agree, however, I do not believe “help from the outside” is the answer. The natural resources and talents of the people and country need to be organized and launched into the business world – help from “within.”

      1. Kind of hard when “help from the outside” consistently overthrows any attempt by the people to improve their own situation.

      1. “Peaceful” is the wrong word when talking about protests, because Jason is correct, they are routinely ignored. Nor are violent protests the only alternative. Nonviolent protests which are massive and disrupt business as usual are even more effective, and win more support than violence.

      2. Well… an obvious one: Mahatma Gandhi. You may have never heard of him: he employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign during the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, for India’s independence from British Rule.

        On a more current note (but an obvious answer to your question)… Donald Trump’s accession to the Presidency was non-violent…. it was the street attacks and destruction of property after the election that was violent… and that violence was carried out by the sycophant radical leftists that opposed the Trump administration, (and the provisions of the Constitution), unsuccessfully furthering their own, misguided cause, however loosely defined that is.

        There are those that would argue that Obama’s accession to the Presidency was non-violent, while both his and Trump’s accessions resulted in meaningful change, the former being questionable, the later being clearly to the benefit of the vast majority of Americans.

        1. The fact that you turned this into a PSA for Trump speaks volumes.

          BTW, Ghandi didn’t free India, the UK going broke during WW2 did. Same can be said for most European colonial holdings at the time.

          1. Au contraire…. for what purpose you stick with your fabricated versions of history is a puzzler, but not an important one for most of us….. (to what end Faulkner?)… Gandhi led the non-violent “Quit India” movement, ordering the British out of the country. The British responded by arresting all the leaders of the movement and over 60,000 other protesters. Following World War II, with India becoming ungovernable, the British decided it was time to grant it independence, perhaps the British War debt influenced the decision (as you may contend), but to negate Gandhi’s role in the equation is, at best, a serious and irresponsible oversight, and at worst a crime against historical fact.

            I’m guessing that you would argue that there was no holocaust?

            1. Your understanding of history would be admirable for a first year undergrad. Beyond that it’s just embarrassing. No wonder you hide behind a pseudonym.

Comments are closed.