Current Events

Protests Rock Governments World-wide

Chile:

Amidst the many protests in the world, people in Chile have been fighting for equality for nearly a month now. 

These protests started by students trying to protest the rise in transportation fares. In early October, it was announced that the fare would rise 30 pesos at rush hour, which is about $0.04. The Minister of Economy at the time, Juan Andres Fontaine, responded by telling people to ride the metro at a different time. Students conducted a mass fare evasion after this, trying to prove that the fare was too much. They were able to not pay buy jumping over and destroying the Metro pay machines. Police started using violence, and in response, chaos ensued. On October 19, the President declared a state of emergency, which enforced curfews and sent military onto the streets.

The protests in Chile have evolved into something much greater than what they started as. It started out as an issue about the Metro, but now people are talking about all the injustices in the Chilean government. The lack of a good public health system, the really low salaries, all create a really bad environment for the common person in Chile, but the politicians are making more than ever. The wealth gap is large, and according to Jose Miguel Ahumada, a political economist and associate professor at the University of Chile, the country is “one of the most unequal countries in Latin America”. 

Protestors want a higher minimum wage, and they wanted their president, Pinera, to leave office. Some people also want a new constitution. 

But, Pinera has been reacting to the protests. He removed the state of emergency after seeing a mass protest on October 25, and switched out eight of his council members. He also proposed some new social reforms, which some people have accepted, and others said would just be more money for the taxpayers. 

This week, as a last chance, Pinera offered to rewrite the constitution. It’s his final way of trying to make up for raising the Metro prices, something he didn’t know would bring down his entire country.

 

Hong Kong:

Protests have rocked the city of Hong Kong for months, dramatically descending into more chaos. Protesters originally opposed a bill, which would have allowed for China to extradite criminal suspects. The policy was finally dropped in September, but the protests have continued. 

Now, protesters have increased their list of demands: investigation of police behavior, increased democracy, amnesty (pardons) for arrested protestors, and for the protests to not be characterized as “riots.” 

The protests have turned from peaceful to deadly demonstrations. Both protesters and police have used increasingly greater force. Multiple people have died and countless injured. In a few clashes with protesters, police have threatened to use live rounds. 

The violence has spread outside of Hong Kong as well: a Chinese official was attacked in London over her policies. 

The crisis has also caused Hong Kong to have its first recession in a decade. Almost all businesses have also sustained significant losses.

 

Iraq:

Anti-government protests sparked in October, leading over three-hundred fatalities. Iraqi protesters are angered at high unemployment rates, government corruption, and lack of clean water and electricity. Demonstrators blame political leaders for the crisis.

The Prime Minister resigned on October 31, and other leaders have since attempted to regain control. Deadly force has been used against demonstrators; the government claims such force is only used when provoked, but protesters refute that statement. 

 

Iran:

The price of petrol in Iran was doubled on Friday, 15 November, leading to violent protests. Demonstrations around the country lead to many deaths, the fatality count estimated from 12 to 40. 

The protests have become more peaceful, but the tension is still palpable. The government has shut down Internet access, making accurate reporting extremely difficult for journalists outside of Iran. 

 

Bolivia:

The resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales has been a cause for joy for many Bolivians; however, some are less than pleased. After almost fourteen years in power, Morales resigned after pushback from the military and other groups, such as unions.

After the October 20 presidential election, protests filled the streets. Carlos Mesa, the other candidate, claimed Morales’ governing party had manipulated the votes to win. Electoral  authorities took over 24 hours to count the vote, and offered little explanation for the delay.

Morales supporters have since taken to the streets, arguing the former president was a victim of a coup. The demonstrations have been deadly, with state forces widely criticized for using excessive force.

Around 17 people have died since October 20.

 

By Amira Pierotti

Categories: Current Events, news

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