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News > Latin America

Latin America: A Decade in Review

  • Citizens protesting against President Sebastian Piñera at the Dignity Square, Santiago, Chile, 2019.

    Citizens protesting against President Sebastian Piñera at the Dignity Square, Santiago, Chile, 2019. | Photo: Twitter/ @wilson_34

Published 31 December 2019

The "bittersweet decade" ends delivering to the world hope and the exemplary tenacity of the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela.

The period between 2010 and 2019 seems to be "the bittersweet decade" for the Latin American peoples. In its first part, the winds of economic development with social justice and equity were fueled by progressive governments that arose all over the continent as a result of the tenacity of workers, farmers, students, human rights defenders, gender activists, and environmental activists.


Venezuela's Maduro Gives Message of Peace in Address To Nation

In the middle of this, however, the fall in international commodity prices and the presidency of Donald Trump facilitated the economic and political conditions for the deliberate creation of national crises, which allowed the most conservative politicos seize the power in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador. But history did not stop there.

Besides delivering to the world the exemplary tenacity of the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela, Latin America ends 2019 by opening windows to the future thanks to the liberation of Lula da Silva in Brazil, the triumph of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, the victory of Alberto Fernandez in Argentina and the awakening of citizenship in Chile. In this part of the Americas, history never ends.


Argentina: Death of Nestor Kirchner

On October 27, the former president Nestor Kirchner, one of the promoters of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), dies at age 60 due to cardiac arrest. His wife, President Cristina Fernandez, then becomes the main figure of the Peronist Party.

Ecuador: Correa survives police uprising

President Rafael Correa, who rose to power in 2007 with an agenda of progressive social demands, faced a political crisis generated by police and military rebels, who attempted to execute a coup d’état.

Haiti: Earthquake and cholera

An earthquake of 7.3 degrees left more than 200,000 people dead, 250,000 injured and more than 1 million affected in the poorest country in the Americas. The tragedy was subsequently accompanied by a cholera epidemic that spread 128,521 people.

Latin America-U.S. relations: Wikileaks raises the scandal

Julian Assange makes history in journalism revealing thousands of archives that contain information about the secret military and diplomatic actions of the United States. The WikiLeaks leak shows evidence of interference in Latin America.

"We need all Argentines to be supportive with open arms and think that the country needs us all in plurality, in consensus, and in the differences of opinions we may have." Nestor Kirchner, Dec. 2003. In 2020, let's build the homeland for all.


Chile: student protests last for months

For more than six months, high school and college students hold demonstrations to demand a review of the education system. Instead of responding to the citizens’ demands, the State invoked the Security Law.

Colombia: citizens reject the privatization of education

Students and teachers protested against a legal reform that would allow the privatization of public universities. After six months of social unrest, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that he would withdraw the bill.

Mexico: marches for peace

Thousands of deaths are the accumulated balance of a lost war against drug trafficking, which President Felipe Calderon began with the deployment of the military to the streets in 2006. In May, Mexicans made a massive peace march that lasted 4 days.

Peru: environmental activists achieve suspension of a mining project

Thousands of Peruvians organize protests against the Conga mining project in Cajamarca, which is suspended momentarily after an impressive regional strike. The government of Ollanta responded violently to farmers who sought to protect water sources.


Colombia: government and guerrillas begin peace talks

President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his government and the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) had initiated "exploratory" peace talks to end the armed conflict, which began in the mid-1960s.

Ecuador: Assange receives political asylum

President Rafael Correa granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which prevents him from being extradited to Sweden where he is accused of committing alleged sexual crimes.

Mexico: the PRI returns to power

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years but was evicted from power for 12 years, regains Mexico's presidency with Enrique Peña Nieto. Thus begins a new period of "modernization" neoliberal that significantly worsens the situation of the population.

Paraguay: coup d’état against leftist president Fernando Lugo

The Congress dismissed President Fernando Lugo after a brief political trial in which he was accused of poor performance. The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) rejects the coup and suspends Paraguay from the integration agreement until "the normalization of democracy."

Venezuela: Chavez is reelected as president

With broad popular support, Hugo Chavez is reelected as President of Venezuela for a third consecutive term. Shortly after the elections, however, the Bolivarian leader informed the population that he is facing cancer again.

"Venezuela overcame the 2019 tests victorious."


Argentina: Priest Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis

After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church appoints Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope. From the beginning of his pontificate, he promises to work to achieve a church more austere and more engaged with its believers.

Ecuador: Correa achieves presidential reelection

With more than 55 percent of the votes, President Rafael Correa manages to be reelected and promises that the Citizen Revolution will continue to maintain heterodox economic policies to favor economic development, social equity, and national independence.

United States: Hispanic-descendent people reach 51 million

Hispanic-descendent people became one-sixth of the population of the United States. Demographic trends indicate that the Spanish-speaking population will represent 30 percent of the U.S. population in 2050.

Venezuela: Chavez died due to cancer

On March 5, after leading the Bolivarian revolution for 13 years, President Hugo Chavez dies due to cancer. His vice president Nicolas Maduro assumes power, vowing to continue with his legacy and maintain the Venezuelan dignity and sovereignty.


Colombia: Nobel Prize winner Garcia Marquez died

One of the most important and innovative writers of the twentieth century, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature, died at the age of 87 in Mexico, where he had lived for several decades.

Cuba: Obama and Castro announced an agreement to re-establish relations

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro announced that their countries would resume bilateral diplomatic relations, which were broken during the Cold War in 1961.

Mexico: 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa

At least 43 students of the Ayotzinapa School for Teachers disappeared in the state of Guerrero on Sep. 26. Presumably, they were killed and dismembered by drug gangs. The case remains open and the culprits in impunity so far.

Venezuela: political opposition prompted violent demonstrations

On Feb. 12, far-right groups fostered violent protests in front of the Attorney General's Office in Caracas. The Bolivarian government issues an arrest warrant against the main leader of the protests Leopoldo Lopez, who turned himself into the authorities to face charges of terrorism.

"Evo Morales makes a toast in Argentina to recover 'democracy' in Bolivia."


Argentina: Mauricio Macri assumes the presidency

After 12 years of Kirchner governments, businessman Mauricio Macri becomes President and implements a neoliberal agenda, which immediately generates social unrest. He ordered the suspension of progressive media.

Cuba and the U.S. restore diplomatic relations

On July 20., the U.S. and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations with the opening of embassies on July 20. However, the U.S. maintains its economic blockade against the Cuban revolution and continues to occupy the Guantanamo military base.

Mexico: Peña Nieto privatizes oil exploitation

After 77 years of public control and management, Mexican oil resources are granted by President Peña Nieto to foreign private companies, which will be in charge of its exploration and production.

Venezuela: the right activates its destabilization agenda

The so-called “Democratic Unity Board” proposes legislative and institutional changes, which represent a substantial setback in terms of the Bolivarian people’s rights. Among those changes is the suppression of state control in the provision of public services.


Brazil: plot removes President Rousseff

As a result of a political trial organized by traditional elites, the Workers' Party (PT) leader Brazil Dilma Rousseff is accused of poor management and dismissed from the Presidency. Her Vice President, Michel Temer, who knew about the false accusations and the plot against her, became Brazil’s president.

Colombia: State and FARC signed a peace agreement

President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC signed a peace agreement. For final approval, the agreement is submitted to a referendum, in which the population rejected the terms of the deal. Peace in Colombia becomes fragile again.

Cuba: Fidel Castro dies

On Nov. 25, the leader of the Cuban revolution, who became a world icon of the anti-imperialist struggle, Fidel Castro dies at 90. His brother Raul Castro, who was serving as president since 2008, continues with his legacy.

Mexico: Trump meets with President Peña Nieto.

During a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Donald Trump redefines the meaning of bilateral relations between both countries, placing migration to the U.S. and the construction of a border wall as the most important issue.

"We are facing the great machinery of the empire that has decided to lash out again against the people and the revolution," Hugo Chavez.


Latin America: U.S. foreign policy generates setbacks

During his first year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump pressured Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and reversed the progress that Barack Obama made in the U.S. policy towards Cuba. He also attacked Venezuela by imposing sanctions on the state-owned company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Ecuador: Lenin Moreno puts aside the Citizen Revolution

Lenin Moreno, the successor of President Rafael Correa, participates as a presidential candidate supported by the Citizen Revolution party. Once in power, however, he abandons the progressive government agenda, approaches local economic and political elites, and aligns his foreign policy with the U.S. requests.

Mexico: two strong earthquakes occur in September.

The states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Mexico, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla and Tlaxcala are struck by two devastating earthquakes, which affect 12 million people, destroy 180,000 homes and leave 471 dead. The cost of reconstruction reaches US$2.6 billion.

Venezuela: The U.S. intensifies its attack on the Bolivarian Revolution

Through an economic, financial, and trade blockade, which is also supported by Canada and the European Union, the Trump administration tried to weaken the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. backed opposition also tried to destabilize the Bolivarian revolution to achieve the early holding of presidential elections.


Cuba: Miguel Diaz-Canel assumes the presidency

After eight years of remaining in charge of his country, the leader of the Communist Party Raul Castro transferred the command to Miguel Diaz-Canel, who had been serving as the First Vice President of the Council of State since 2013.

Honduras: a caravan of migrants heads to the United States

In October, some 1,300 Hondurans form a caravan whose purpose is to reach the U.S. by land. Thousands join the pilgrimage while the asylum seekers were crossing through Guatemala and Mexico. Trump ordered a military deployment on the southern border to stop an "invasion."

Nicaragua: political opponents generate violent protests .

President Daniel Ortega faces a wave of violent protests against social security reform, which the far-right sponsors to delegitimize and destabilize his government. Although the Sandinista leader called a national dialogue, the opposition did not accept any negotiation proposal in the short term.

Venezuela: Maduro is reelected as president

President Nicolas Maduro is re-elected as president for the period 2019-2025 with a majority of votes. In August, extreme right-wing opponents try to assassinate him while he delivered a speech at the Bolivarian National Guard's anniversary ceremony.

"The people of Santiago are already beginning to gather at Dignity Square. Screams, songs, flags in the wind, hopes of a better country. The people's giant force. It is like an endless river of united hearts. New Year in Plaza Dignidad. What a great pride to be Chilean on this day."


Argentina: Peronism wins presidential elections

Amidst a deep economic crisis that led to 40 percent of the population to poverty, Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Fernandez are elected as president and vice president defeating Macri, which opened up hope for the Latin American progressive forces.

Brazil: Lula leaves prison

Former President and leader of the Workers' Party Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva is released after 580 days as a political prisoner. He was jailed due to an unfair judicial process, which was plagued by irregularities and managed to get him away from the 2018 presidential elections.

Bolivia: the U.S. fosters a coup against Morales

On November 10, President Evo Morales is forced to resign due to a coup d’état, orchestrated by the army, police and right-wing forces. The U.S. and the Organization of American States (OAS) support a de-facto government whose first repressive actions left more than 30 dead, 800 wounded and 1,500 detainees.

Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, and Honduras protest against IMF

In 2019, Latin Americans took to the streets to protest against the International Monetary Fund and its policy impositions, among which are the privatization of basic services and budget cuts for health and education.

Cuba: new Constitution is proclaimed with broad citizen support

In April, in the context of an intensification of the U.S. blockade, Cuba adopts a new Constitution, which ratifies the socialist nature of the revolution. The new supreme law facilitates the election of the president and other important positions in the State.

Puerto Rico Gets Tired of Corruption

On July 24, after 12 days of consecutive protests, in which thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the street, Puerto Rico's former Governor Ricardo Rossello announced his resignation despite his hesitancy to do so a few days before. 

Venezuela: the year ends with a victorious resistance

The Bolivarian people say goodbye to the year 2019 showing their willingness to resist the U.S. arbitrary blockade. The opposition maneuvers aimed at generating a political crisis, as well as the sabotage of the national electricity system, did not achieve their objectives.

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