South America Living

Social Protest In Latin America

Part Of The Fabric Of Latin American Life

Everywhere I go in Latin America I see social protest. Manifestaciones… huelgas… And I know that makes a lot of North Americans uncomfortable — we just don’t do that. When we have protest, it’s typically an outright riot like Baltimore or Ferguson. But when they do it in Latin America — it’s just not that kind of a thing.

Social protest is woven into the fabric of Latin American culture. And it has always been thus. Protest by organized labor and the masses has played an important role in the transitions from authoritarian rule to democracy as well as in the fall of democratically elected presidents in Latin America who were involved in corruption scandals or who pursued unpopular economic or social policies.

Students are typically the most vociferous of the protestors. But Farm Workers (Mexico)) Teachers (Colombia), Indigenous Peoples (TIPINIs in Bolivia) — have all raised our collective consciousness and created an increased awareness of their issues through social protest.

Police presence is a constant during these manifestaciones. But it is traditionally a peaceful relationship between protestors and police.
So — when someone says: Aren’t you worried about the riots in that country? You can rest assured…it’s not a riot — it’s just a matter of social protest. And that’s a good thing.


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