Contributed by Jim Hayes
Looking about us today, we see the world moving into greater turmoil. This is not only about political leaders eyeballing each other. Something much more profound is going on.
A deep social revolt against austerity, corruption and the erosion of democratic rights is arising.
In some of those nations where the impact is most acute, people are taking to the streets to demand change.
Big protests over the last two weeks in Ecuador, Colombia and Chile have shaken South America. Each has met repression, which has in turn, resulted in resitance.
Ecuador erupted after president Lenin Moreno moved to slash fuel subsidies. This was the catalyst that let loose anger against the austerity package agreed to by the government, in return for $4.2 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The deal, known as Decree 883 is immensely unpopular.
Indigenous people, who make up a quarter of the population led the protests.
The parliament was occupied for a short time, and 75,000 military and police were sent out into the streets to physically stop the protests. A curfew was ordered and the prime minister swore to crush the protest movement.
It did not work. Moreno and his government were forced to flee Quito the capital, and relocate in Guayaquil, the nation’s second city.
Ten were killed, more than 2,000 injured and 1,000 arrested. The protests still continued, and Moreno was eventually forced to back down.
On Sunday last week, an agreement was reached, where the fuel subsidy would rewmain for now, and there will be dialogue over the rest of the austerity package, in return for an end to the protests.
Although a kind of calm has returned, many fear that the agreement will not be applied. The situation remains tense.
Ecuador protest talks set for Sunday as capital locks down
Video from AFP news agency
Video fromAl Jazeera English
In Colombia, students took to the streets over education funding and corrupt university practices. The riot police were sent out to break the student strike and this has generated a backlash., bringing many others to support them. The unrest is continuing and further strikes are expected.
Colombia protests: students want better funding for universities
Video from Al Jazeera English
Colombia: Students hold mass protest in defence of public universities
Video form Ruptly
Colombia: Riot police attempt to crush student strike
Video from Ruptly
In Chile, high school students took over stations in Santiago’s subway system last Friday, after a steep rise in fares. This quickly escalated into a more general revolt, after unions joined and called for a general strike.
President Sebastian Piñera sent in troops and declared a state of emergency.
There has been seething discontent over the steep rise in cost of electricity and fuel, and the shortage of good quality water. There is also anger over the government;as attack on labour rights.
Chile’s President puts Toops on the street
Video from NBC News
Although the situation is less acute in other countries, discontent with the way things are is the general trend. Two centres of discontent in Europe are Cataluña and France.
Last Wednesday, Catalans took to the streets in a new wave of their campaign for independence from Spain. They were met with a brutal response form the security forces.
The protests were sparked by the long jail sentences imposed on their political leaders for calling the last referendum on independence and acting according to its results.
Video from Channel 4 News
Even British, not known for supporting Catalan independence, has been compelled to admit something about the scale of this movement, although with qualifications.
Protesters also occupied the airport for a time.
Video from The Telegraph
Video from EL PAIS
According the woman talking in the background the fire being filmed was being lit by the police. This leaves a big question mark over what might have been the purpose. Was it to set up a scenario to discredit the independence movement, which is the main Catalan political force and forms the regional government?
The protests were sparked over the long jail sentences imposed on their political leaders for calling the last referendum on independence and acting according to its results.
Video from Jo vull votar adéu espanya
Meanwhile in France, the Yellow Vests keep on turning up on the streets every weekend, despite the escalating use of police attacks by the Macron government.
They have now been banned from Paris’ famous Champs-Elysees, as well as others parts of Paris and also in areas of the cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Tear gas was used on 22 September.
Video from Global News
Nearly two weeks ago (12 October), the was another big turnout in Paris
Video from Ruptly
On 14 October police tear gas Yellow Vest march in Toulouse’
Video from RT
United across the political spectrum, huge crowds joined in the streets of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital.
Although a lot is being said about a tax on the communication platform WhatsUp, the discontent is about much more, including a general tax increase, the rest of the government’s austerity package, the escalation of government corruption, and the poor state of the nation’s infrastructure.
This has led to one of parties of the governing coalition leaving and the resignation of some key political figures. The situation remains unresolved, and many of the protesters are calling for an end to the government.
Protests Erupt in Lebanon Over Planned WhatsApp Tax
Video from Bloomberg TicToc
Lebanon: Police use tear gas as fires break out at Beirut protest
Video from Ruptly
Police firing on march caught by this footage.
Video from Alex R.
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