Failure of the Neo-Liberal Economic Model in South America

Protests across the globe are growing at a worrisome rate. The right to fight for your beliefs and rights has now become a turning point worldwide where the ordinary citizen is eager to get what it deserves. Protests in Hong Kong have wreaked havoc. Lebanon has also seen its fair share of demonstrations over the course of the last few weeks. Catalonians are forcing the Spanish government to give in to their demands. Where some protests may focus on the removal of the government for its policies, in other places, protests have poured in due to economic collapses. At this point in time, we are seeing enraged citizens crying, fighting and even dying for what they believe in. Lebanon and Iraq are seeing locals pour onto the streets due to the government’s failure to provide them with basic services and they’re all demanding the removal of the political elite. Broken promises, ineffective policies and a future with no success in sight will only result in the outburst of anger unless concrete changes are made.

Turning our focus from the Asian continent, thousands of kilometres away in South America, a similar picture is being painted. Violent demonstrations in Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador have forced international observers to highlight what the problems are. Whenever protests arise, there are many things that need to be discussed. There’s always an underlying issue which is the root of the problem. At times, it may be the government taking certain decisions that may collide with the interests of its people. Sometimes, external factors may also play a huge role. However, the main idea is the lack of facilitation on part of the government. The South American continent has seen just that.

In Bolivia, where President Evo Morales successfully ruled for three terms, saw the end of his rule after weeks-long protests. Morales thought he could get the better of his people but his rush towards securing a fourth term ended in misery after he bowed down to military pressure. What Morales did was try to cover up an election which had failed. He claimed victory before the election could go to a second-round runoff. Morales, the country’s first indigenous President can be credited with bringing more representation to his people, unfolding an economic boom for the country and curbing inflation. We must agree that he brought a change in the living standards of many Bolivians but what really brought the nation to the edge started in 2016. The president at the time tried to abolish presidential limits which signalled his move towards authoritarianism. Morales’ opposition right-wing Carlos Mela asked supporters to take to the streets to deny Morales victory and thus protests began where at least three people were killed and hundreds others injured. In Bolivia, people stood up to make sure they were guaranteed the necessary changes.

Moving to Chile, a country famous for its natural resources, especially copper. It all began when the government decided to increase the fares of public transportation. This initiated a violent order of protests on October 18, where thousands stepped on the streets to not only ask the government to repeal the changes but to also demand for better social services. Chileans are demanding better education, the reduction in income inequality and access to better healthcare. Protesters in the country say that the neoliberal economic model gives more priority to the rich who are able to afford better private education and healthcare, leaving the poor at the edge of crisis. The protests also forced the cancellation of two major international summits which came as a huge blow to the country which has not seen such protests in a long time. They are now asking for the replacement of a constitutional charter which was penned by dictator Pinochet in 1980. This would enable the privatization of many basic utilities which Chileans believe would reduce the disparity between the rich and the poor.

In Ecuador, the lifting of state fuel subsidies prompted violent reaction from the masses. President Moreno, after seeing the anger that fueled within the hearts of protesters, declared an emergency to ensure things would work appropriately. Ecuador has also seen its fair share of disparities and this time what surfaced was the one between the rural areas and cities. The indigenous group CONAIE and its leaders have also given the government an ultimatum to accept their demands which they have been trying to accomplish for a very long time.

The problems in South America, which continue to grow whether they revolve around the economy or the improvement of basic living standards, are those which will take a long time to quell. If leaders decide authoritative measures aren’t a good idea and listening to the citizens is a better choice, not only the economy, the potential future of these states will also be secured.