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Chile Is the Latest Latin American Country to Erupt in Violent Protest. Here's Why.

October 21, 2019

Chileans returned to the streets of Santiago and other cities Monday to launch a second week of protests against cost of living pressures and persistent income inequality.

At least eight people are dead, 200 injured and more than 1,500 detained as Chile, long a beacon of stability and prosperity in South America, has become the latest Latin American country to erupt in violence. Protesters called a general strike Monday; President Sebastián Piñera said the country was at war...

Brian Winter is vice president for policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.

"Everyone following Latin America is watching this and saying, 'Oh my god, Chile, too?'"...

Trust in the political system, meanwhile, has reached a nadir. Pollster Latinobarometro has found that less than 25 percent of the region’s population is "satisfied with democracy in their country."

"As the economy has slowed over the last decade everywhere in the region, people are not seeing their lives improve as much as they expected and are lashing out against their governments, and the whole system," Winter said.

With frustration rising against center-right leaders in Chile, Ecuador and Argentina, he predicted rising support for leftists.

"It’s kind of like watching a fish flop around the table," Winter said. No one is really able to give the people what they want, so they elect someone from the other side of the political spectrum.

"It’s either that people have unrealistic expectations, or that no one has tapped into the reforms that could really get Latin America back on the path of growth," he said. "I believe it's the latter."

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