The world in protest

epa07995016 A protester practices with a Molotov cocktail at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Hong Kong, China, 14 November 2019. Hong Kong is in its sixth month of mass protests, which were originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill, and have since turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL CANDELA

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This article by Tonio Galea appeared for the first time on Corporate Dispatch weekly geopolitical insights journal ‘Diplomatique.Expert’ published on November 16th 2019. 

From Bolivia to Lebanon to Ethiopia, people are taking to the streets to protest.

The wave of demonstrations is driven mainly by young people protesting against stagnant economy and corruption in the highest levels of government as well as, in some cases, by the ever-growing inequality amongst the population.

So far, the most successful actions have been the mass demonstrations in Bolivia which saw President Evo Morales flee to Mexico.

The demonstrations in Chile and Lebanon have been the largest in years and seemed to have caught their governments by surprise. But other countries, such as Ecuador and Iraq, have also been gripped by protests against corruption and the dire economic situation, and the situation is still fluid.

Demonstations in Hong Kong proved an inspiration to others around the world, though in each country has its different reasons. Protests in Hong Kong stem from long simmering discontent with what many residents of this Chinese territory consider constant erosion of the liberties they once enjoyed as a British colony.

But, maybe even before the Hong Kong protests, inspirations came from the demonstrations that paralysed Paris and other major French cities for many weekends this year by what was dubbed the “Yellow Vests” protests.

The spontaneous protests that erupted in France, initially were a reaction to the financial situation, but eventually endorsed various other grievances of how France was being run.

A defining factor in all these protests, French and others, is the way modern technology is increasingly being adopted to organise the protests.

Protesters throughout history that always have been adept at harnessing technology to further their means.

In the time before modern technology, it was the printing press that served the purpose; during the Islamic Revolution that saw the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, it was the rudimental tape recorder.

Though protests for economic and political reasons have been a mainstay in recent history, the world is now witnessing a new phenomenon of protests that are linked to the environment and climate change.

People like the Swedish youngster Greta Thunberg and activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement have been on the forefront, protesting in cities around the world, as they demand urgent action from governments.

Some protests succeed through the perseverance and determination of the protesters and other factors that influence the targeted issues. Others drag on for what seems an indefinite period in a tumultuous battle between the people in the streets and the decision makers. Suffice to mention the ongoing crises in Venezuela.

The world is witnessing this surge in demonstrations at a time when the international community is remembering howthe determination for democracy that peaceful protests in the Communist ruled Eastern Bloc in Europe finally reached the unexpected apex with the fall of the Berlin wall, 30 years ago.

This article by Tonio Galea appeared for the first time on Corporate Dispatch weekly geopolitical insights journal ‘Diplomatique.Expert’ published on November 16th 2019. 

The world in protest

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