Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica,
Bolivia… and counting.
The triggers might be
different but they all have more than our blood in common. Every
struggle in the region is connected. Decades of oppression, poverty,
inequality, femicide, discrimination, racism, draconian economic
measures imposed by US backed neo-liberal governments, who are still
selling our resources and displacing Indigenous peoples, and who have
no qualms about using the full strength of the army and police force
to repress our people and imprison, torture, disappear and kill
anyone who dares protest. Students, Indigenous Nations and Afro
descendent, , Workers, Women, LGBTQ people.
We can examine the
causes of the uprisings in each country, created by colonisers to
separate us, but in a way the triggers are just the tip of the
iceberg. It is much bigger than that. It goes back to the invasion
and genocide but we can just focus on recent years.
We need to be clear
that Ecuador is not just out in the streets because of the rise of
fuel prices, Chile is not on strike just because of the hike on
public transport fares, Mexico is not just destroying itself because
of a few bad narcos, Haiti has grown fed up with extreme poverty,
Honduras is not just about the fact that the US approved president’s
brother is involved in a drug dealing scandal.
Our continent never
truly decolonised mentally and in practice. The Indigenous Nations
and Afro descendants never benefited from the processes of
independence despite shedding our blood in the wars, which were led
by criollos (white children of Spanish born in Latin America), the
Natives were cannon fodder and abandoned when it was tie to re
distribute the lands and profits. Even now, communities and whole
towns are being forcibly displaced and even decimated, to make way
for Canadian, US, and British mining and fracking companies, whose
revenue does not stay in Latin America. And the caste system imposed
by the conquistadores never disappeared. White people still rule,
Mestizos work for them, Indigenous people are in poverty and suffer
great levels of racism, Afro descendants are 4th class
citizens, their histories forgotten, even in the classrooms.
The other big issue is
how they rule us and educate us. Corruption is ingrained in every
sphere. The ruling class is openly there to serve themselves. Fraud
in electoral processes has always been the norm and we are resigned
somehow. If any government makes real progress for the working class,
they are murdered, like Chile’s Allende, or charges are made up to
imprison and establish a far right government, Like Lula in Brazil
who is locked up with false charges of corruption which led to
Bolsonaro’s victory. Venezuela, Bolivia, and, of course Cuba, have
emancipated their countries and gone to a mediatic war with the US
and suffer blockades and even attempts of coup d'etat.
That is briefly the
context where we move now. The eruption of protests in all the
continent are not shocking or out of the blue. And the protests are
radical. There are sectors who have even been traditionally
conciliatory and centrist that have now been radicalised, more so
because of the fascist-like response of all the governments, which
are right wing like in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Chile.
Indigenous peoples are
now leading the struggle, and they refuse to be forgotten and
tokenised any more. They are fighting for all, and to get the rights
to their ancestral lands and stop the destruction of the environment
and the theft of our resources. They are keeping our culture alive
Ecuadorian indigenous are being killed, the media is silent,
willingly or shut down with guns. And little coverage has been done
in the West even by the Left. Haiti has been out in the streets for
seven weeks and the no one knows. The work of the capitalist system
is not just killing people in protests but in the mind of the people.
Derogation of blame, dehumanisation, devaluation.
It is true the cartels
in Mexico and Central America control a big part of some cities and
villages. Narcos are barbaric in their fight against each other and
many innocent people have been victims, murdered or kidnapped, or
coerced into working for them. This has always been the case. But, as
a child growing up in Mexico, the level of drug related crime was
minimum, and , not glorifying them here, they built roads and helped
towns when the Neo-liberal governments refused to even open schools.
In the 2000s this
changed with President Calderon, not just in Mexico, as the US
blessed the so called war on drugs which escalated on a war against
civilians and anyone not complaint. Nine women are killed a day,
children are being recruited, people kidnapped. The fallacy is the
government is taking action. The government are the narcos. And the
police and army are involved to the core.
In South America the
narrative has been simplistic claiming the revolts are about fare
hikes or petrol. It is not, as I previously stated. In Chile’s 40
year old ‘new democracy’ they have suffered cuts and austerity in
health, education and pensions. 30% of the income is in the hands of
1% of the people. Water is privatised, constitution is from Pinochet
times. 10% of the state’s copper industry goes to the armed
forces, and Pinera’s right wing government has gone from promoting
Chile as an ‘oasis’ ‘a miracle’ to ‘we are at war with a
powerful enemy” in one week. A very unequal “War” that has
weapons and repression on one side and pots and pans on the other.
All the governments
facing rebellions now have, obviously, blamed Venezuela and Cuba,
easy escape, but in one way, Pinera is right in one single thing. The
enemy is powerful: It is the Chilean people. All the Latin American
people are rising and this time I doubt they are going to stop till
we are truly free from oppressive governments and USA and FMI
Solidaridad! Venceremos!! ■
Tais is a Mexican Native and activist based in London. She has been part of the student and Indigenous movements in Mexico and has been involved in animal rights, Antifascism and solidarity work in Ireland and the UK for many years.