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5 Latin American protests you may not have heard about

Wikimedia: Marcelo Camargo

Social unrest is sweeping through Latin America. Protests of tens or hundreds of thousands have flooded streets in recent months.

Crony governments squandering public funds, systemic inequalities that leave everyone vulnerable to crime and a general feeling of social exclusion have inspired the collective anger.

So people are peacefully marching, people are yelling, people are waving signs and demanding change.


And reform is starting to come in some places. After all, few things are greater agents of change than a united social front.

To keep you in the know here are 5 social protest movements in Latin America:


Femicide has plagued Latin America for a long time. Tens of thousands of women are slaughtered each year because of “Machismo” culture that normalizes the denigration of women.

In Argentina, people have had enough. The unrelenting assault on women has caused mass outrage. In June, thousands of citizens began to march under the banner of #NiUnaMenos (Not one less).

The protests aim for an outcome beyond legal action--although tougher laws are also a major concern. Instead, the protests demand a fundamental reconception of gender relations so that women can live their lives without fear of male rage.


Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was once celebrated by his people for drastically reducing the poverty rate and modernizing the country in other ways. This was made possible partly by oil revenue.

Now that oil prices have plummeted, his agenda has been crippled and a broad swath of people have a wide range of their own grievances. The sudden instability also underscores how fragile  Correa’s gains were to begin with.

Runaway inflation, crackdowns on dissent, growing debt, new taxes, changes in water rights, new mining policies, overreliance on China and other developments have led to demands for Correa’s resignation.


Corruption in the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández is the cause of outrage in Honduras.Thousands of people have hit the streets demanding an end to flagrant misuse of public office.

The protests began more than 3 months ago when it was revealed that officials at the Honduran Social Security Institute stole around $200 million USD to support lavish lifestyles around the world.

The journalist who exposed the crime is on trial for defamation.

Protesters demand an end to impunity, major reform and the resignation of the president. “Down with JOH” (the president’s initials) has become a favorite rallying cry.


Recent protests in Guatemala have also centered on political corruption and achieved rapid results. The president, Otto Perez Molino, had been accused of involvement in a bribery scheme that allowed importers to avoid paying fees.

Molino resigned on September 3rd, 2015 and is already facing charges in court.

A new election will be held later this Fall. The speed with which Molino was toppled cannot be understated and is a remarkable achievement for the people of Guatemala, who lived under vicious dictatorships for much of the 20th century, and the global fight against corruption.


Social unrest has been growing in Brazil for years. The emerging middle class feels abandoned, the economy is sputtering and revelations about corruption linked to President Dilma Rousseff regarding the state-run oil company Petrobras have set off widespread protest for change.

The president has an approval rating of less than 10% in some polls. The country’s currency hit a 12-year low.

In August a Sao Paolo protest drew around 135,000 people. The crowd fumed against the increasing concentration of wealth in the country and the seeming formalization of corruption.

Two-thirds of Brazilians want to see Rousseff impeached.

In the past, these protests might have been muzzled with violent, persistent crackdowns. That doesn’t mean dissent isn’t still being crushed in some areas, but the visibility and stamina of the crowds attests to the hold civil rights have in various countries.

Protest is a necessary tool of democracy. Protest allows citizens to gain an audience they would never be able to gain alone.

And in an era of social media and globalization, the potential audience is bigger than ever and can cast a protective armor around movements.

I hope these protests achieve their goals. I hope they root out all corruption and lead to broad social change so that every person feels that society works in her or his favor.

If you agree in the promise of social change, then call on global leaders to support the Global Goals in TAKE ACTION NOW.

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