In Chile, protests have started because of the increase in the price of the Santiago metro. In Ecuador, the trigger was the end of gasoline subsidies. In Peru the acts were against corruption, while in Venezuela the target was dictator Nicolás Maduro. The Bolivians, on the other hand, were divided: one party was in the streets against Evo Morales, and the other, in his favor.
These are just a few examples of the wave of protests that exploded in Latin America two years ago, a sign of a general feeling of popular discontent.
In 2020, the region – just like the rest of the world – would be rocked again, this time by the coronavirus pandemic. Folha correspondent in Buenos Aires since 2016 (and, previously, from 2011 to 2013), Sylvia Colombo looks at this scenario in an attempt to understand the current situation in Latin America in her new book, “The Year of Cholera” (ed. Rocco) .
With a virtual launch event slated for next Thursday (29), the work provides an overview of recent political protests and events in the region, traces a historical analysis of the causes of popular discontent and shows the impact of the Covid health crisis. 19. .
All of this is done with an emphasis on the differences and peculiarities of each country, without treating Latin America as a monolithic bloc. “An analysis that puts everyone together, as if Latin America were one and the same, is lazy and lazy,” she says, a history graduate from USP. “For example, you can’t talk about Bolivia and Ecuador the same way you talk about Argentina and Uruguay, because of the indigenous issue.”
Thus, the book has been divided into seven parts. In the first and last, Sylvia does a more general analysis of events across the region, showing what is common. The middle five chapters are devoted to different countries (Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina). This solution allows the author to detail the social, historical and political specificities of each place.
In the Chilean case, for example, the journalist goes back to the coup d’état of 1973, which overthrew the government of Salvador Allende and instituted the military dictatorship. From there, he shows how the Augusto Pinochet regime created a constitution that failed to meet social demands, in an uprising that led to the 2019 protests – the Chileans approved last year in calling for a Constituent Assembly to make a new charter.
In the part on Venezuela, the author also goes back in time to show how the old bipartisan system only served the aspirations of the economic and political elite, which created the scenario for the emergence of Hugo Chávez. – and how the country has changed since. his coming to power in 1999, until the current situation under Nicolás Maduro.
The structure of the return in time also appears in the chapters on Argentina (with an emphasis on Maurício Macri and Kirchnerism), on Bolivia by Evo Morales and on the indigenous question and on the reasons why Uruguay became a model of stability for the region.
To this historical and political analysis, Sylvia also adds a local flavor, with stories she has experienced or learned during her recent trips to these places – many of which are imbued with how each country is coping with the spread of the coronavirus. .
The initial project did not even include the pandemic and would only focus on the demonstrations that marked the region in 2019. But the health crisis was inevitable because it ended up intertwining with the context that was already bubbling in the region. “Latin America is a continent with many comorbidities. It is a region with a lot of inequalities, a lot of poverty, a lot of informal work ”, explains the author. “The coronavirus has shown that these problems cannot be covered up and that in many cases they have worsened. Which leads us to think that, perhaps, when this storm passes, those demands will come to the surface.
What is the situation in the main countries described in the book
Argentina Mauricio Macri lost his re-election in October 2019 to the center-left slate formed by Alberto Fernández, president-elect, and vice-president Cristina Kirchner
Bolivia’s Evo Morales tried to get a fourth term in the October 2019 elections. The election had allegations of fraud, Evo resigned and left the country after pressure from the military. Jeanine Añez succeeded the interim presidency and ruled until November 2020, when new elections defined Luis Arce, Evo’s ally, as the new president. Añez was arrested in March 2021 on charges of coup d’etat
Chile A wave of protests erupted in the country in 2019 after the government attempted to increase the fare on the capital’s Santiago metro. The protests culminated in the convening of a Constituent Assembly, which is expected to be elected in May to draft the country’s new constitution
Uruguay center-right Luis Lacalle Pou was elected president in November 2019 and ended a streak of three center-left Front Broad governments
Venezuela In 2019, Juan Guaidó, then head of the Legislative Assembly, proclaimed himself the country’s interim president and attempted, with international support, to oust dictator Nicolás Maduro, but failed. The regime has resisted pressure with support from the top of the military, even in the midst of a major economic crisis