This is how four Latin American presidents reacted to the protests

Each of these leaders has had a different reaction to the social demands of their countries.

Sebastián Piñera, Chilean president and Iván Duque, Colombian president.

Sebastián Piñera, Chilean president and Iván Duque, Colombian president. / Photos: AP, Democratic Center.

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

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Leer en español: Así reaccionaron cuatro presidentes latinoamericanos ante las protestas

What many media have called the "Latin American Spring" is a reflection of the discontent of many citizens with the governments of the countries where they live. The protests, marches and national strikes have provoked reactions from different social sectors, both for and against. However, perhaps the most important reaction has been that of the presidents, who in the end are responsible for solving the demands of citizens.

In LatinAmerican Post we gather the reactions of four leaders to the protests in their respective countries.

1. Sebastián Piñera, Chile

President Sebastián Piñera was cornered by the demands of thousands of Chileans who took the streets of the southern country. What initially were marches and excesses due to the increase in the price of the subway ticket, led to several situations being rethought. From October 18 until now, a national strike that has been going on for more than 40 days, citizens ask to reform the pension system; quality and free education; better labor guarantees and end social inequality.

Before the claims, Piñera went out to apologize to the Chilean people for the way in which his government has proceeded and the way in which the previous leaders did. According to the president, problems have accumulated for decades but failed to recognize their magnitude.



However, asking for forgiveness was not enough. Piñera had to accept the realization of a plebiscite for the Chileans to decide if a Constituent Assembly that modifies the Magna Carta that rules from Pinochet is held.



Although this announcement was expected to reduce mood, Piñera's decision to empower the military to protect the infrastructure without declaring a state of emergency has meant that the strike does not stop.

Also read: How many victims have left the Latin American protests?

2. Evo Morales, Bolivia

The elections of October 20 gave Evo Morales the winner. But having suspended the count when the opponent Carlos Mesa appeared to be the winner sowed a cloak of doubt about the result. The protests did not wait and over time the intentions of the dealers changed, they no longer required only the holding of new elections but also the resignation of Morales.

The opposition was able to press and the results of an OAS audit forced Evo Morales to resign on November 12. Once he had done so, the president left Bolivia and took refuge in Mexico, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador granted him political asylum.



From exile, Morales denounced the self-proclamation of Jeanine Añez as interim president and said that everything is part of a coup d'etat set against him.

Read also: To the rhythm of pots, Colombia protested against Duque

3. Iván Duque, Colombia

Since November 21, the country is in a national strike. Different sectors came together to protest and let Ivan Duque know his discontent with his government. The claims include tax reform, possible pension reform, corruption scandals in public universities, the systematic murder of social leaders, among others.

Before the demands of the citizens, Duque has responded with what many called warm water cloths. In national addresses, the president called a "national conversation" to listen to Colombians. However, according to the same president, the talks will run until March 15, a date that seems to be far from the urgency with which the events of the national strike have developed. In addition, the violent actions of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) and the National Police seem to go against what Duke says.

At the moment there is no agreement between the National Unemployment Committee and the government on the 13 points presented for discussion. Citizens hope that the death of the young Dilan Cruz, who marched peacefully last Saturday, will help the government to listen to the Colombian people and reduce violent events in the demonstrations.

Read also: Keiko Fujimori is released

4. Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua

This Latin American country has been in a political crisis since April 2018. Faced with the requests that demand the resignation of Daniel Ortega as president of the country, the president has responded with violence and repression.

An example of the repression is the case of the newspaper La Prensa. A newspaper that is 93 years old and has not functioned for a year as it used to do after the executive branch ordered to retain the necessary supplies for printing, says El País. By August 2019, seizures of paper, ink, plates and spare parts left losses of 230 thousand dollars.

Although this newspaper also has a digital version, the page was subject to cyber attacks that apparently intended to cause it to collapse. Institutions such as the Inter-American Press Society described the situation as censorship by the government. This is just a sample of the levels of repression that Ortega can reach.

Another example, this time of violence, is the tense relationship it has with the Catholic Church, which Ortega has accused of encouraging protests. On November 18, the mothers of some of the prisoners who have left the marches announced the beginning of a hunger strike to request their release. The reaction of the police was to besiege the cathedral and it was ordered to cut the water and energy services of the place. Ortega supporters entered the recession and assaulted a priest and a nun who sought to defend the people who were there.