Tag: Political Unrest

Global Unrest

Bloomberg – A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe – Alan Crawford 12/5/19

Alan Crawford does a bang up job of identifying various hot spots of unrest around the globe that led to political change. Does not include other areas of unrest, i.e. Xianjiang and Jammu and Kashmir.

Economies on the verge of collapse, a yearning for greater democracy, revulsion against corruption and inequality–the grievances that drove people into the streets in 2019 were consistent across continents. Some marched peacefully, others clashed violently with security forces, and in at least five places the unrest helped topple government leaders.

Below is a breakdown of protests around the world, by region, and the main reasons behind them.


A defining movement of 2019 was the worldwide push for more urgent government action against what scientists and activists call a climate emergency. Demonstrations took place around the globe, many inspired by the 2018 school strikes started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

① Puerto Rico

After a hurricane, bankruptcy, and probes into corruption, Puerto Ricans ousted Governor Ricardo Rosselló in July.

② Venezuela

Hyperinflation and hunger have driven opposition to the repressive regime of Nicolás Maduro. So far, he’s dug in.

③ Colombia

President Ivan Duque promised to lower taxes for the poorest quintile of the country after unrest led to the deaths of at least four, including a teenager.

④ Ecuador

When fuel subsidies ended, chaos ensued. The government rescinded the price hikes days later.

⑤ Bolivia

President Evo Morales presided over economic growth but ignored term limits. He wasforced out on Nov. 10.

⑥ Chile

Anger at increases in public transport costs grew into a broad-based movement protesting inequality.

① Scotland

More than 200,000 marched through Edinburgh in support of independence from the United Kingdom.

② U.K.

Britain has seen mass demonstrations both for and against Brexit, which is destined to define the country’s future.

③ France

A year into the yellow vest protests, the demonstrations have waned in size, but the grievances remain.

④ Catalonia

The impasse between Catalonia and Spain’s government in Madrid flared anew, with no resolution in sight.

⑤ Czech Republic

Prime Minister Andrej Babis, one of the country’s richest men, was a target of the biggest protests since 1989.

⑥ Slovakia

Slovaks took to the streets in October to demand investigations into crimes and the rooting out of government corruption.

⑦ Russia

Moscow has been the center of the largest antigovernment rallies in seven years.

① Algeria

Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sought a fifth term, prompting unrest. He resigned in April.

② Lebanon

A levy on WhatsApp calls sparked pent-up anger, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in October.

③ Iraq

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi quit after hundreds died in protests against government corruption and influence from Iran.

④ Iran

Fuel-price hikes resulting from U.S. sanctions sparked protests that led to more than 200 deaths, Amnesty International said.

⑤ Sudan

Omar al-Bashir crushed dissent during his 30-year presidency, but discontent over prices led to unrest that forced him out in April.

⑥ Malawi

Allegations of election rigging prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets of Malawi’s cities in August.

⑦ South Africa

Poor government services and a lack of housing were the primary reasons for violent demonstrations that broke out in April.

① South Korea

Tens of thousands protested the appointment of Cho Kuk as minister of justice. He left after five weeks on the job.

② Hong Kong

A June rally against a proposed law allowing extradition to China morphed into a broad anti-China movement.

③ Indonesia

October protests raged against the government’s program, including controversial changes to the criminal code.

④ Papua

In Indonesia’s easternmost region, clashes between separatists and government forces in August and September resulted in many deaths.

Insights on the Political Unrest in Latin America and the Worst Cities for Traffic

Bloomberg Businessweek – Unequal and Irate, Latin America Is Coming Apart at the Seams – Daniel Cancel 11/17/19

In Chile, it was sparked by a minor increase in the capital’s subway fare. In Ecuador, it was the end of fuel subsidies, and in Bolivia, a stolen election.

Latin America, which a decade ago harnessed a commodities boom to pull millions out of poverty and offer what many saw as a model of modernization, is in revolt. It’s not another pink tide, nor is it a lurch to the right; the movement is more a non-specific, down-with-the-system rage. Furious commuters are looting cities, governments are on the run, and investors are unloading assets as fast as they can.

With almost three dozen countries and more than 600 million inhabitants, Latin America defies easy generalization, which makes it difficult to predict what will come next. A few weeks ago, Evo Morales, the longstanding president of Bolivia, seemed headed for reelection. Today, he and his top aides are in exile in Mexico while some in his country have taken to the streets again to protest what they say was the military coup that removed him.

In that sense, there are parallels with the Arab Spring, which began in 2010, and the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades earlier. Both were unforeseen and moved in surprising directions, yet they offer lessons in retrospect. “There were a lot of cracks, but no one saw it coming,” says Javier Corrales, a professor of political science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, of events in Bolivia and across the region.

Two common factors stand out, he suggests: commodity dependence and the middle income trap, referring to the stagnation that often sets in after a population climbs out of extreme poverty and then struggles to achieve further development. Latin America is the most unequal, lowest-growth major region in the world right now, offering a cautionary tale for other parts of the globe with similar dynamics.

“Inequality is the main cause of the disenchantment being felt by citizens throughout the region in the face of a stunned political establishment yet to understand that the current development model is unsustainable,” wrote Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, in a recent essay. The people want to eradicate the culture of privilege, she added.

The region is caught between competing models of government: leftist populism and market-oriented liberalism. Governments of each type have been plagued by incompetence, corruption, and a failure to meet social demands. The result has been a growing fury toward the ruling classes, leading people to the streets. 

“People are angry at their political systems,” says James Bosworth, author of the weekly newsletter Latin America Risk Report. “There’s an anti-incumbent wave and governments haven’t dealt with the roots of the problem, and those problems aren’t going away.”

Bloomberg – It Takes Five Minutes to Drive a Kilometer in Metro Manila – Claire Jiao 10/26/19

For most people, it could be worse…