Latin American Recent Politics

Latin America


The Economic Commission for Latin America reported in 2004 on contradictions youth face: they have more access to education, but more unemployment; more information, but less power; and more expectations for autonomy, but fewer means to achieve it—problems not confined to Latin America. “Many of the street protests in Latin America are sparked by a new middle class, increasingly indebted, who aspire for more, and demand quality public services and decent treatment,” observed UN Assistant Secretary-General Heraldo Munoz.[i] South American countries struggle with political instability as in Venezuela and Brazil, and corruption and crime remain too high across the region. The Organization of American States created a Youth Agenda to encourage youth participation and employment.

Looking at young people’s reaction to political issues, about 60% of young people surveyed by UNESCO in Latin America feel informed about children’s rights, including the right to an education and not be mistreated.[ii] About one-third think their country will improve because crime is being fought, the country is developing, and problems are being solved. About one-third think it will stay the same. The other one-third thinks it will be worse in the future because of too much delinquency and violence, economic problems, and politicians don’t do their job. Less than a third trust government. The most pessimistic are urban youth from higher-income families, as in other regions. They would like government institutions to be more efficient and honest, show more concern for youth, create more recreation resources, and help the needy. However, a Gallup poll in 2013 reported that Latin American countries had the highest level of “positive daily emotions” and a better view of the job market than any other region.[iii] Denmark was the only non-Latin American country in the top ten countries in well-being. Panama and Costa Rica were at the top of the list. Young, urban, college-educated people tended to have the highest well-being.

When asked about their goals for their country, young people want to get rid of “bad people” and delinquency (26%), a better economy without poverty (25%), peace (20%), social equality (16%), and to do away with drugs or alcoholism (10%). If they ran the country, they would help the needy and increase safety. They would help children by providing an education, security, treatment for drug addiction, the right to have a home, and respect for children’s rights.

Latin American youth activists meet under the umbrella of groups like the School of the America’s Watch. It was formed in 1990 to close US military bases in Latin America, as well as close the US Army School of the Americas, called the School of Assassins, that trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in countersurgency.[iv] (A socialist and anti-colonial training center was opened by Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2016.) It brought together youth from 18 countries in the Encuentro in Venezuela in 2015 with the theme “Rooted in Resistance, Sowing Sovereignty.”[v] Their goal is to build a new world, community by community, a sovereign continent, “free of imperialism, capitalism, violence, injustice, exploitation, oppression, discrimination, racism, and patriarchy.” Youths’ specific struggles revolve around protecting their land from extraction industries, searching for disappeared family matters, prosecuting officials who violate human rights, preventing criminalization of social movement leaders, fighting for indigenous rights and food sovereignty and against militarization and deportations on the border.

Poverty is problematic with around 167 million people in Latin America living in poverty and 71 million surviving on less than one dollar a day.[vi] Oxfam reported that Latin America is one of the most unequal and unsafe regions outside of war zones; the richest 10% of Latin Americans owned 71% of the region’s wealth in 2014.[vii] The World Bank warned at the end of 2015 that 241 million precariats could fall into poverty, over a third of the continent. Another problem is women’s control over their own reproduction, with abortion widely outlawed—El Salvador even jailed women who had a miscarriage. With the spread of the zika virus that causes birth defects when pregnant women are infected by a mosquito, some Latin American governments asked women not to get pregnant, without mentioning men’s responsibility or abortion options. In most Latin America countries fetal impairment isn’t grounds for an abortion, one of the most restrictive regions in the world as shown on a map.[viii]



Honduras’ “outraged” youth conducted a large months long protest against government corruption in 2015. Five of the youth leaders met with US Ambassador James Nealon to question where US aid money goes. Students also organized a sit-in against corruption at UNAH, the national university, for nearly a month in 2016. Students protested the privatization of public education and the lack of student input into policies. A Honduran lawyer who works for an educational foundation listed youth-led uprisings that he compared to volcanoes.


The youth forge a path that can be placed both chronologically and geographically alongside other actions and their consequences in the region. For example, the Zapatista armed uprising in Chiapas in 1994, the coup d’état in Honduras in 2009, the student movement in Chile for public education in 2011, the scandal against los falsos positivos in Colombia in 2012, the struggle in defense of the Normal (teaching) schools in Guatemala in 2012, the massacre in Iguala Ayotzinapa [Mexico], the fight against the corruption in Guatemala. And now, among others, we have the marchers with the torches against the corruption in Honduras 2015. This unrest in Honduras is not capricious nor is it new, nor is it senseless youthful rebellion. Instead, it is a synchronized force reacting to the failure of the promise of Western democracy that triggered the tectonic plates of youth that like volcanoes awaken in every region of our beloved Central and Latin America.[ix]


Demonstrations continue: For example, although the US media didn’t pay any attention, thousands protested possible cuts to the University of Puerto Rico budget in May 2015 and organized a student strike. The Non-Aligned movement is the second largest international organization, after the UN, with 26 member states from Latin America.



When Raúl Castro replaced his brother in 2008, he permitted some new political and economic freedoms including being able to buy and sell homes. That was also the year when the US Congress voted to spend $45 million more to undermine the Cuban government. Raul Castro promised to retire in 2018. Baseball players, the national obsession, can now work abroad where they are paid much more, and there’s more freedom for entrepreneurs although 3D private movie houses were shut down in 2014 because of the immoral content of US films. Cooperative businesses are expanding rapidly along with privately-owned enterprises. Advertising is still rare; billboards have political messages rather than semi-nude women. Catholic Bishops called for a “plural” society and a more democratic system in 2013. However, the government relies on the military, providing them with new apartments with air-conditioning in gated “military cities” around the country. A Canadian scholar, Hal Klepak explained Castro needs the military because “they are the only ones who will follow him if the reform succeeds.



Argentine culture was shaped by immigrants from Italy and Spain and other European countries from around 1860 to 1930. Argentina was the birthplace of the most popular revolutionary leader in the world, judging by the numbers of photographs, posters, and T-shirts with Che Guevara’s face around the world. He’s a fashion statement for activist girls’ T-shirts. After World War II, the military maintained intermittent control, taking power in a junta from 1976 to 1983. The military dictatorship abducted tens of thousands of activists, many of them young. The Piqueteros movement protested job losses in 1996 when the state-owned oil company laid off workers. Protesters blockaded roads and organized “Unemployed Workers Movements,” cooperatives, and ran their own factories. The majority of them were women including a well-known leader named Milagro Sala. A martyr, he was killed in Bolivia when he was only 39.

Economic crisis in 2001-02 led to self-help cooperatives, land takeovers, and worker-run factories in a movement called the “19th and 20th” (of December 2001), documented in the video The Take (2004) by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. In December the government froze bank accounts to try to manage the foreign debt. To protest, millions of people went to the streets and forced the government to resign. Due to huge loans from the IMF and austerity measures to pay back the loans, many middle-class families fell into poverty and joined with unemployed workers who began organizing in the 1990s, often led by women using road blockades. They marched banging pots and pans chanting, “They all must go” referring to the neoliberal politicians. The rebels rejected working with political parties, similar to later uprisings. An activist named Daniela said women were more motivated because unemployed men get depressed and women care more about hungry children, while the father “comes home, watches a little television, and goes to sleep, but the women see the hunger in the neighborhood.”[x]

Hundreds of worker takeovers of factories occurred in 2001 after economic collapse left many abandoned factories, while other groups did collective farming.[xi] Some of the factories also housed art centers and after-school programs. Author Marina Sitrin reported that millions of people used barter networks after the 2001 economic collapse with thousands of barter clubs, which she recommended the Greeks utilize in their economic crisis.[xii] Over 350 “recuperated” or worker-run workplaces exist in Argentina, a catalyst for the movement that spread to Europe and North America. Sitrin described the take over of the Hotel Bauen in 2003 by the staff along with workers from other recuperated workplaces, members of neighborhood assemblies, and media collectives.[xiii] The hotel is run by the workers who provide meeting spaces for progressive groups. Each worker has an equal voice in decision-making.

Sitrin visited the town of Cordoba where neighbors succeeded in blocking Monsanto’s construction of a new plant and conducted other environmental battles against deforestation and mining projects. Other examples of local organizing, a group of mothers formed an assembly in Malvinas to oppose the use of pesticides and they won. The “First Gathering of Recuperated Workplaces” was held in 2005, in Caracas, Venezuela, where some groups agreed to barter services and products. In a return visit to Buenos Aires in January 2015 Sitrin learned about dozens of new workplace recuperations all organized horizontally.[xiv]



Perhaps the first self-organized occupation in Latin America was the formation of La Victoria community in Santiago de Chile In 1957. In the darkness, their horses’ hoofs tied with cloth to muffle sounds, poor people took over a state property. Some women came secretly to escape their husbands and women and young people played active roles in the community. From the beginning they said it was “an enormous exercise in self-organization by the settlers.” They organized committees for health, security, etc. that reported to the collective. They built infrastructure, including a health clinic, and a circular school building with bricks made by the students. They called each other compañero to signify their cohesion, different from the usual unorganized shantytowns. Within two years La Victoria had 18,000 citizens and more than 3,000 homes. Their occupation technique was repeated in other Latin American countries.

Raúl Zibechi observed, “In this new kind of movement, self-construction and self-determination take the place of demands and representation. This pressure from below transformed the course of social struggles and the cities” from representative democracy to direct democracy and direct action.[xv] Young members of La Victoria led protests against dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1983 and 1984, resulting in thousands of injuries and the deaths of at least 75 protestors. Chile’s transition to democracy finally occurred in 1990.

In the 1960s and in 1999, university student associations led a movement for universities to help solve current social problems, disgruntled with the failures of leftist governments. Chile’s uprisings are led by student associations, as occurred latter in Hong Kong and Quebec, whereas other youth-led uprisings are more loosely organized. In 1970 Salvador Allende was the world’s first democratically elected Marxist president who worked for social reform until he was ousted in 1973 by an American-backed coup. Henry Kissinger told President Richard Nixon that the US “helped” make the coup happen and advised the CIA in a note to “Make the economy scream.” [xvi] General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship (1973 to 1990) killed and tortured thousands of Allende supporters. Students distrusted his vague promises that “happiness is around the corner.”

Pinochet was advised by the neoliberal “Chicago Boys” who studied at the University of Chicago with Milton Friedman. They turned Chile into one of the most unequal countries in Latin America and the fourteenth most unequal in the world.[xvii] Before the coup, education was free. The seven richest families control the natural resources on which the economy is based.[xviii] Students blame them for their debt loads as the “big” families control many banks and private universities and their lobbying efforts are unregulated. Youth protesters blamed increasing poverty and reduced social services on Professor Friedman’s program to privatize and deregulate in order to open markets to global commerce.[xix] Wealth increased very unequally, as when capital gains taxes on rich investors were abolished in 2000 under President Ricardo Lagos.

The result of neoliberalism under Pinochet was one of the most unequal educations systems in the world with high tuition costs. Under neoliberal policies, public universities charged tuition and government funding decreased, while private universities were encouraged to earn profits. Families pay more than 75% of education costs, compared to 40% in the US. Most university students have to attend private high schools in order to do well on entrance examinations, while poor students can only attend poor quality government schools where they are not prepared to pass the important exams. In a Faultline documentary about the student demonstrations, the mother of an engineering student bemoans the debt they’ve incurred to educate him.[xx] Similar to the US, she says everyone is in debt because of consumerism, the false belief that buying things brings happiness: “The malls are full and credit cards maxed out. Society has been fooled.” Educational reform is underway in Chile, but it’s still difficult for poor people to get good quality education.[xxi]


In May, 2014, 40,000 to 100,000 people marched in Santiago to protest Bachelet’s reform proposals, carrying banners stating, “Justice in education is not a utopia” and singing, “We’re taking to the streets again. Chilean education will not be sold: It will be defended.” Students succeeded in bringing the right to affordable education to the center of debate, as when all nine presidential candidates in the November 2014 elections proposed educational reform. Bachelet promised free higher education by 2016 and ending state funding for private high schools. Youth challenged the control of the “big” families over an unequal economic system. Following passage of a bill that increased corporate taxes in December 2014, the Minister of Interior announced that free higher education would begin in March 2016.

Thousands of students and teachers went to the streets on April 16, 2015, to protest corruption scandals including Bachelet’s son and delays in education reform. On May 14 they demanded that the national government pay for education instead of local governments. The 150,000 demonstrators also wanted better teacher salaries and supported the National Teachers’ Union strike. Confech claimed 150,000 protesters and its leader Valentina Saavedra requested that the Education Ministry end its “arrogance” and begin “democratic dialogue.” She said, “Enough of this democracy which only serves the big businessmen, which is at the service of a select few.” Some protesters wore black hoodies and tossed tear gas canisters back at the police. They rejected the government’s reform plan. Banners read, “More democracy and less corruption, let Chile decide its education” and “Non-profit education.” The Education Minister cut the number of underprivileged students who could have free tuition by half because of budget cuts. Student activism inspired smaller student movements in Colombia and Argentina.




A Portuguese colony, many Europeans migrated to Brazil in the late 1800s to make money in the growing coffee market and Europeans continued to migrate over the centuries. Since the 16th century, African slaves were used to work in the sugar and coffee plantations, along with indigenous Indians. Brazil has more Africans than any other country outside of Africa. A black musician, Seu Jorge, reported, “You need to be black to understand what it is like to get on a bus and see people getting off, afraid of you, or calling the police. My daughter, who has a privileged education, came home one day telling us that her colleagues at a ballet class didn’t want to hold hands with her. She will have to grow with this pain.”[xxii] About 40 universities have spaces set aside for Afro-Brazilians. BBC reported that young black men are about half of the 50,000 Brazilians killed each year with a high femicide rate.

Like some other Latin American countries, Brazil alternated between a democratically elected president and dictators established by a military coup. The military ruled from 1964 to 1985, probably with US backing, instigating major infrastructure development such as building power plants and bringing about an “economic miracle.” Rapid industrialization occurred in the second half of the 20th century along with environmental degradation. The junta aimed to end corruption and communism, but military rule included torture, executions, control of labor unions and universities while Congress continued to function only on a limited scale. In the 1990s democratically elected President Fernando Henrique Cardoso worked with the IMF to bring economic stability that was accompanied by recession, cuts in social programs and a large national debt. By 2009 Brazil was able to offer $10 billion to the IMF to help provide loans to developing countries.

Social programs established by President Lula da Silva (called Lula) provided benefits to poor families and slowed the spread of HIV. Young people started organizing small activists groups when Lula was elected in 2003, creating new social movements that organized beyond their local areas. A few wealthy families control much of the farmland so the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) demands land redistribution. Cry of the Excluded (Grito de los Excluidos) was organized in 1995 to connect social movements across the continent, including religious groups.

Lula selected Dilma Rousseff as his Chief of Staff and presidential successor. President Rousseff eradicated most extreme poverty, expanding many of Lula’s programs and added new ones, spending more on job training, childcare, and low-cost loans to start businesses. About one-quarter of the population is enrolled in the BosIa Familia program that pays poor families at least 70 reais (about $30) per month if they keep their children healthy and in school. It’s one of the largest welfare programs in the world. Between 2001 and 2012, Brazil reduced extreme poverty from 14% to 3.5%, according to a UN report.[xxiii] Rousseff brought in Cuban doctors to serve in the countryside and built new homes for low-income families. Community centers provide youth with tutoring, cultural activities, Internet and computers, partly funded by the government.

Brazil is the only BRICS country to reduce inequality since 2009, but there’s still a wide gap between rich and poor—a global problem. Inflation and unemployment rose during Rosseff’s presidency and the economy shrunk. Part of the problem is cutbacks in China’s purchase of commodities like soybeans and iron and the US tightening of monetary policy. Rousseff was suspended for six months in 2016 by the lower house for breaking budget rules, specifically hiding the growing deficit with funds from state-owned banks. She was not accused of corruption. At the end of the six months, the Senate vote requiring two-thirds to impeach her. The house had only 45 women out of 513 deputies who sarcastically said to her “Goodbye dear.” She said, “There has been, mixed in all of this, a large amount of prejudice against women.”[xxiv] An opinion poll by Ibope research company held in May 2016 revealed the two-thirds of the Brazilians thought the coup was done to benefit the politicians—not for the good of the country. In July the Office of the Public Prosecutor found that Rousseff didn’t break any laws and her predecessors also used her budgeting procedures. Senators from her Workers’ Party pressed unsuccessfully or an end to impeachment proceedings.

The Revolutionary Youth organization campaigned for free fare in secondary schools in Florianopolis beginning in 2000. The more radical activists were expelled from the organization aligned with the Workers Party, for asserting that youth “should not be watched over by an adult organization.” In 2004, the city raised fares again, activating ten days of huge demonstrations enlivened by hip-hop and other musicians. Youth engaged in direct action such as jumping transit turnstiles. They succeeded in preventing the fare increase and organized large assemblies held on a street they renamed Uprising Street.

In the city of Salvador tens of thousands of poor and lower middle-class students protested a fair increase in 2003 in the Bus Revolt, which Zibechi traced as the beginning of the MPL movement. The official student associations weren’t involved in the demonstrations, while independent students were used to defying authority, sneaking onto trains and samba dancing on street corners. They formed large assemblies held at street blockades using consensus decision-making. They rejected suggestions to set up committees to “prevent the formation of a new student bureaucracy in the streets.”

The Free Fare Movement, MPL was organized in 2005 in a plenary session at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre to coordinate groups in various cities. Most of the 250 mainly white middle-class participants were ages 15 to 25 and represented 20 Brazilian states. Some participants were students and faculty at the University of São Paulo (many were studying Humanities, aged 19 to 23); others were workers and high school students. The MPL called themselves anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal urbanism, non-partisan, peaceful, leaderless and horizontal. Graduate student Gabriel doesn’t agree that they call themselves peaceful, emailing that they’re “combative.” They were pro-consensus and direct democracy with ongoing working groups and national meetings. MPL organized weekly workshops for secondary school students including music, dance and theater to dramatize transportation and class issues.

In an interview with two members of the Libertarian Socialism Anarchist Organization (OASL) they described MPL as being “autonomous and combative” through direct action and civil disobedience. They reported most of the core demonstrators are educated, with workers and local residents on the periphery. Most were new to demonstrating. Leftist parties were also involved since the beginning of the protests. The MPL practices horizontal participation as in not telling protesters what to do; for example, they used the human mic in large gatherings rather than sound systems and wanted demonstrators not to be passive or wait for directions. Their loose structure includes affiliates in over seven cities that have met in national assemblies since 2009. Their mission statement includes, “The MPL is not in itself an end goal, but a means for the construction of another society,” as well as public transportation for the people (youth and workers).” Photos are available on their Facebook page, “Photos of Passe Livre São Paulo.”

Discouraged by lack of success in reducing fares, the MLP dwindled, but broadened its base from student fares to anti-capitalism and the “right to [influence] the city” as their underlying concepts. The belief that every citizen should have equal access to resources was central to other urban uprisings, especially in Turkey. MLP reached out to poor people of color who began joining the movement. Urban social movements gained momentum again in 2010 when the MPL was already established as a national organization known for its work for urban reform. It trained thousand of activists and created its own media.

Victor Khaled, an anarchist graduate student, started to organize with MPL in 2005 in São Paulo, and then in Florianopolis when he moved there in 2007. He emailed that the focus is on free public transport since transportation costs are almost equal to food costs for the poor.

Like many other Brazilians, President Dilma Rousseff’s parents were immigrants–hers from Bulgaria. After the 1964 coup, Rousseff joined Marxist urban guerilla groups to oust the military government. She was jailed and tortured between 1970 and 1972. A military prosecutor called her the Joan of Arc of the guerilla moment. When President Lula da Silva was elected in 2002, he asked her to become Minister of Energy, then his Chief of Staff, then to run for president even though she’d never run for office. Campaigning to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014, she was elected president in 2010. It’s not surprising that she was more accepting of the rebels than other world leaders who labeled demonstrators rats, hooligans, terrorists, dirty and lazy.

Up for re-election in 2014, Rousseff urged police restraint but condemned violence when thousands of protesters tried to storm a government building in Brasilia and looted stores and burned cars. An anarchist Black Bloc group clashed with military police, as they did in Egypt, Spain and the US. The Black Bloc started out with mainly young men in the June 2013 protests but added women over time, protecting marchers and striking teachers from the police, organizing on their Facebook page. The indignant youth were most active in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and some saw their actions as a performance, a form of direct action against government buildings and McDonald’s fast food stores to stimulate debate. They also engaged in direct action destruction of store windows, government buildings, and ATMs. One of the Black Bloc activist said peaceful protests do nothing: “The government doesn’t care! They only listen to violence.”[xxv] They told an interviewer they’re angry about the lack of basic services, the high crime rate, privatization, and an uncaring government. Public indignation is expressed by cartoonist Luciano Cunha, who created a popular hero seen on his Facebook page (O Doutrinador) who wears a mask and carries a machine gun to purge corrupt politicians.

Rousseff asked to dialogue with protesters and met with leaders of a free-transit activist group, governors and mayors from 26 capital cities to discuss how to improve public services. The youth wing of her Workers’ Party maintained solidarity with the protesters. In a TV address, she said she would lead the creation of a national plan to improve urban transportation (spending an additional $23 billion), use oil royalties for education, reform politics, control inflation, and hire more foreign doctors (Cubans) to serve in rural areas. In reaction, a university student who marched in São Paulo commented, “Dilma is underestimating the resolve of the people on the corruption issue. She talked and talked and said nothing. Nobody can take the corruption of this country anymore. All my friends were talking on Facebook about how she said nothing that satisfied them.” Professor Alfredo Saad Filho observed in hindsight in 2016 that the media inflamed the demonstrations that were “captured by the upper middle-class and the right, and they shook the government—but, clearly, not enough to motivate them to save themselves.”[xxvi] He added that demonstrations returned two years later and in 2016 in a class war.

Gabriel accurately predicted that Rousseff was unbeatable in 2014 and it wasn’t a goal of most protesters to remove her from power. However, Geyssy, 21, a student in north west Brazil told me in May that everyone she knows is very disappointed with the president, surrounded by corrupt people, just interested in making money. She didn’t know who could replace her but didn’t think Rousseff would get reelected. She said the poor who get government money to send their children to school and get medical care vote for her. Geyssy appreciates that health care and public universities are free, if a student passed the entrance exam.

When Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes announced another bus fare increase in 2014, protesters took over the main train and bus station (shown in a video cited in the next endnote). Protesters let thousands of people in to the station without paying fares, took control of the ticket machines to the accompaniment of samba drumming and wearing superhero costumes such as Batman. Black Bloc members smashed turnstiles and waved flags while the police attacked with pepper spray and percussion grenades. A 21-year-old student, Yasmin Thayna explained, “Public transport is slow, dirty, hot and expensive. The government shouldn’t be talking about raising fares, it should be working to improve services. The World Cup is worsening inequality.”[xxvii]

Activists occupied unused land in São Paulo near the World Cup stadium in May 2014, building plastic tents and starting to till the land. They occupied Augusta Park to create a people’s park, with yoga classes, workshops, recycling areas, libraries, an open school and assemblies and debates that included some of the same participants in the June 2013 protests. They joined with the Turkish Gezi Park activists to write a manifesto titled #Reclaiming Our Parks: “If nowadays we live the crisis of the global city, the resistance must also be global, the path seems to be the connection of all spheres, local, national and international.”[xxviii]

Large nation-side demonstrations occurred again in the spring of 2015 to protest a scandal involving Petrobras, the state-owned oil company. They accused the company of paying bribes to Workers’ Party officials, including two of Rousseff’s chiefs of staff. She was not personally accused of corruption, but demands were made for her to be impeached and her popularity scores fell to 7%, even among the poorest Brazilians who were her supporters. The Movement of Landless Workers (MST) supported Rousseff along with protection of workers’ rights, but thousands of protesters dressed in yellow and green and carrying the flag went to the streets to condemn corruption and chant “Out with Dilma.” Lula himself was accused of correction in 2016 during Brazil’s worst economic crisis in three decades, but not convicted.



CANVAS, the Serbian group that trains revolutionaries, began to train opposition leaders in Venezuela in 2005: President Hugo Chávez called them the Coup D’Etat group. Popovic went to Texas to present Stratfor with a plan for how to unseat Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2010. President Obama signed legislation in 2015 freezing assets and revoking travel visas of Venezuelan officials accused of violating the human rights of critics and issued an executive order condemning Venezuela as a “national security threat.” A petition against Obama’s labeling Venezuela a national security threat and sanctions against seven officials garnered over eight million signatures and over five million tweets from protesters in 105 countries. The Venezuelan ambassador to Australia, Nelson Davila, said in November 2015, “Capitalism, at the global level, is exhausted, and Latin America has woken up, and the right-wing aims to defeat governments that struggle against . Millions of people signed a petition to hold a referendum to oust Maduro in 2016 when many Venezuelans suffered from hunger. Maduro joked that “Maduro’s diet gets you hard. No need for Viagra.” However, in October 2016 the government suspended the referendum process in what the opposition called a coup, the Vatican sent a mediator, and Maduro met with the Pope.

neoliberalism.”[xxix] He added, “The U.S. is trying to defeat the Bolivarian revolution no matter what,” but he’s grateful for “help from political and social movements from around the world gives strength to the Bolivarian revolution.”

Another opposition leader, former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, first rejected the protests, but later used Twitter to call for the formation of popular defense committees to maintain the pressure on Maduro’s government. Capriles wanted to avoid civil war, but told Al Jazzerra TV that Venezuela may face a social explosion because the government insists on a model that doesn’t work. He said some people in the opposition think throwing stones and building barricades is effective, but it isn’t. The government profits from it because it divides the country. The military backed the government that tried to borrow more money from China to revive the economy. (China invests in Latin America as well as Africa, seeking resources, investments and to be more powerful than the US. It’s building billion dollar mega railways in what it calls “railroad diplomacy,” raising concerns about environmental impacts in Latin America. China’s development bank surpassed the World Bank in lending.[xxx])











[i] Thalif Deen, “Are Middle Class Protests Fallout from Poverty Alleviation?” Inter Press Service, July 25, 2013.

7 UNICEF conducted a large survey of young people, aged 9 to 17, about 10,000 youth in 17 countries, from 1999 to 2001. “Speaking Out! UNICEF/HQ93-0198/ROGER LEMOYNE

[iii] Melanie Standish and Dan Witters, “World Faces Shortage in Purpose Well-Being,” Gallup, September 23, 2014.

[iv] Nika Knight, “Bolivia Builds Anti-Imperialist School to Counter US Hegemony,” Common Dreams, August 19, 2016.

[v] “33 Young Leaders From Across the Americas Gather in Venezuela,” SOA Watch, December 2015.

[vi] Frei Betto, “An Uncertain Future for Latin America, TelSUR, March 31, 2016.

[vii] Winnie Byanyima, “The World’s Inequality Countdown,” Common Dreams, January 18, 2016.

Jennifer Glassco and Lina Holguin, “Youth and Inequality,” Oxfam, August 12, 2016.



[viii] “Thanks to Zika, We Now Know Latin America Has the Toughest Abortion Policies in the World,” WGBH News, March 10, 2016.

[ix] Héctor Efrén Flores, “Outraged in Honduras: the Paradigm of a New Social Movement,” Rebel Report, June 12, 2015.

[x] Marina Sitrin. Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina. Zed Books, 2012. p. 200.

Sitrin, ed. Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina. AK Press, 2006.

[xi] Nora Leccese, “A Decade After the Take,” Shareable, September 25, 2013.

[xii] Marina Sitrin, “Barter Networks: Lessons from Argentina for Greece,” TeleSUR, July 15, 2015.–Lessons-from-Argentina-for-Greece-20150715-0014.html

[xiii] Marina Sitrin, “Hotel Bauen and the Workplace Recuperation in Argentina,” ROAR Magazine, May 1, 2014.

[xiv] Marina Sitrin, “Argentina: Societies in Movement or Politics as Usual?,” TelSUR, January 27, 2015.

[xv] Raúl Zibechi. Territories in Resistance: A Cartography of Latin American Social Movements. AK Press, 2012.

[xvi] Slavoj Zizek, “A Brief Clarification about Populism,” TelSUR, April 25, 2015.

[xvii] CIA World Factbook (the US is 41st)

[xviii] Roland Benedikter, “Chile: Country or Change?”, Harvard International Review, March 23, 2014.


[xx] Chile Rising, Faultline, 2012.

[xxi] Gregory Elacqua and Fatima Alves, “Rising Expectations in Brazil and Chile, Education Next, Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter 2014.

[xxii]Silvia Salek, “BBC Delves into Brazilians’ Roots,” BBC News, July 10, 2007.

[xxiii] Henry McVety, “The Emergence of Brazil: An Unfinished Story,” KKR, May 8, 2012.

[xxiv] Anthony Boadle, “Brazil’s Rousseff Slams Impeachment Drive as ‘Sexist,’ Reuters, April 19, 2016.

[xxv] Esther Solano Gallego, “The Story of the Unsung Heroes: Black Bloc Brazil,” ROAR Magazine, June 23, 2014.

[xxvi] Alfredo Saad Filho, “Overthrowing Dilma Rousseff: It’s Class War, and their Class is Winning,” The Bullet, March 23, 2016.

[xxvii] Johathan Watts, “Rio Protesters Seize Main Station,” The Guardian, February 6, 2014.


[xxix] Nelson Navila, “Interview: Venezuelan Elections Matter for Global Resistance,” TelSUR, November 5, 2015.

[xxx] Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher, “China’s Global Ambitions, with Loans and Strings Attached,” New York Times, July 24, 2015.


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