The Root of Global Unrest: Chile, Ecuador, Iraq, and Haiti

The Root of Global Unrest: Chile, Ecuador, Iraq, and Haiti


So this video is going to be a little bit
different. I usually go pretty in-depth about a topic
in a video and I was going to make a video on…something else, but that video is going
to take a lot more research. So instead, I’m going to talk real quick
about unrest in these 4 countries, what caused it, where we currently are and how they’re
similar. Obviously, by talking about it in such a brief
fashion, I won’t be able to get too deep into it. So think of this video as a brief introduction
instead of a deep-dive like I usually do. I’m going to cover each country separately,
then at the end, maybe we’ll see a pattern emerging out of these unrest. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to
discern the shape of things to come. Sounds good? Let’s start with…. The unrest in Chile began on 7th October. A week before, the government decided to increase
public transportation fare. As a response, students began dodging fares
as a form of protest. You might have seen students jumping turnstiles
in a video somewhere on Twitter or Youtube, that’s what that was. As time went on, more and more people, besides
the students, joined in the protest. From workers to indigenous groups, people
began their own protests, and the government reacted by unleashing violence upon them. But that’s kinda odd, right? Why would simple fare hikes cause unrest? Well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There has been this tension bubbling beneath
the surface in Chile since…well since democratically elected Allende was deposed by Pinochet with
American help, really. But I’m not going to get too deep into that,
so If you want to learn more, Bad Empanada has talked about it in his very first video. Instead, what’s important for this video
is the fact that his policies resulted in extreme inequality, one of the highest in
the world even. See, you might’ve heard that Chile is a
high-income country, which is true. But it’s only true because really rich people
biased the average per-capita income so much. I mean, the minimum wage for Chileans is about
$400 a month, comparable to that of Brazil, but with one of the highest living costs in
Latin America. And even worse, about 25% of people actually
make less than minimum wage. And even even worse, utilities and electric
bills were also increased in the months preceding the protests too. Other public services aren’t much better
either. Public healthcare is underfunded, while the
private option is available only to those with high-income. Education is left to the municipal level,
which resulted in underfunding due to a lack of money from the federal level, and a tiered,
voucher system leads to a poorly funded public education system and highly subsidized private
schools for the rich. Pensions are privatized, leading to lower
benefits due to high overhead costs. Hell, even water is privatized in Chile, leaving
millions of people without access to running water for days at a time So people protest and unrest follows. In turn, the government reacted with impunity,
and so far 18 people have been killed at the time of writing and it seems like the government
is still escalating the violence, especially against indigenous Mapuche people. Now you can see why people are pissed, right? Costs of living increase, yet people’s wages
stagnate, while the rich gobble up a bigger and bigger portion of the wealth. In turn, the police and military beat people
into submission and kill people on the streets. Sometimes that inequality and austerity are
imposed by local politicians due to historical momentum, but sometimes they are imposed by
supranational financial capital. With that in mind, let’s take a look at… In an ironic twist so colossal it would’ve
malformed earth’s magnetic field and kill us all had it not been metaphorical, someone
named Lenin turned out to be a neoliberal centrist. I’m of course talking about Lenin Moreno,
the current president of Ecuador. He was elected on the promise of continuing
progressive policies of Ecuador’s previous president, Rafael Correa. But he did not do that. See, in 2007, left-ish Rafael Correa won the
presidency with promises of increasing social welfare and public services, and he did exactly
that. For a time, the economy grew and people were
lifted out of poverty. But this was built on the back of high commodity
prices. As a developing nation, Ecuador depends heavily
on commodities export to fund its social programs. And so, when commodity prices inevitably went
down, the government was forced to take on debts to continue its programs. In the last years of the Correa presidency,
right around the time when commodity prices went down, he tried to manage the debt by
increasing inheritance tax and introducing austerity measures. It did not go well, to say the least. Protestors came out to oppose both proposed
policies, and so he started a campaign of repression, even against his former leftist
allies. But there was still enough goodwill for him
to endorse Lenin Moreno, his then vice-president, with the promise of continuing social welfare
and public services. Well, Lenin Moreno won that election but none
of his promises materialized. In fact, he turned around and reversed nearly
all of Correa’s progressive policies. So essentially, someone named Lenin turned
out to be yet another neoliberal centrist, which is just…ironic, I guess. He then asked for IMF loans to pay back the
debts and accepted the Structural Adjustment Programs that come along with it. Specifically, IMF and Moreno’s plan would
see that fuel subsidy is abolished, fixed-term contracts for workers be accompanied with
a 20% pay cut, vacation days for public employees are cut by half, and, this is the most brazen
one I think, the debts of big companies forgiven. That last one already happened, so you can
see where Moreno’s priorities actually lie. On top of all of that, the IMF agreement still
demanded layoffs, wage cuts, and loosening labor laws. So it’s really not hard to see why, throughout
space and time, again and again and again, SAPs have caused massive upheaval wherever
they’re enacted, on top of worsening people’s quality of life. And surprise surprise, that’s exactly what
happened in Ecuador. Indigenous people and students mobilized and
protested the planned austerity. And, just like in Chile, the government reacted
by unleashing violence upon the protesters. At the time of writing, 8 people have been
killed. The protest turned into something like a quasi-insurgency,
which at one point resulted in Moreno fleeing the capital. Though, after 12 days of unrest, Moreno and
indigenous leaders negotiated, and the president agreed to subsidize fuel again while the rest
of the austerity plan will still go through. So, the situation in Ecuador seems to be stabilizing
and it’s a partial victory for the people. Was that the best they could get? This is another pattern that keeps repeating
over and over. Financial capital, through the IMF or the
World Bank or other powerful financial institutions, will try to exert its power to secure their
holdings in developing countries. When shit hits the fan, as they always do,
it is always the people who’d need to bow down before capital. Austerity measures then follow, along with
the immiseration of workers under the guise of making the economy more competitive. But really, whose interests do these policies
really serve? Who truly benefits from this? Well, if you dig a little deeper, you’d
find one common denominator among these cases. With that in mind, let’s talk about American
imperialism and… In Baghdad and other provinces, protest erupted
at the beginning of October over high youth unemployment, poor or nonexistent basic services,
and government corruption. The demonstrations were spontaneous, largely
peaceful, and without the backing of political factions vying for power. These are unlike other demonstrations in the
past, which were usually mobilized through and led by political factions controlled by
the ruling class. Instead, the current protests were organized
by “Coordination Committees” composed of academics, university graduates, youth
movements, and tribal leaders And again, like the other countries we’ve
talked about so far, the government reacted by deploying armed forces against the protestors. What’s different in Iraq is that the violence
used by the state is much MUCH more severe than in other countries. So far, 114 people have been killed at the
time of writing. Mostly protestors, mostly shot in the chest
or head. And they weren’t stray bullets hitting protestors
either, the Iraqi government has snipers killing demonstrators from afar. Though to say it’s the Iraqi government
is not exactly correct either, it’s more like the armed wing of political factions
trying to hold on to their power. See, when the US restructured the Iraqi government
after the invasion of Iraq, they essentially copy-pasted the American form of democracy
into Iraqi society. And so, just like the US, an elite class of
politicians emerged from the metaphorical rubble of Saddam’s government. But there were many factions vying for control
of Iraq’s vast amount of oil, and it created a system of factional patronage where whoever
controls the oil money will then turn around and use that money to buy the support of the
people in their faction. And so, that money isn’t really being used
to rebuild the country, but instead only shared among certain factions currently in power,
usually supported by America or sometimes even Iran. So that’s why the Iraqi people are losing
faith in their government. I mean, you would be too right? It’s a government that represents only a
small fraction of people. Even worse, both Iran and the US are using
Iraq as a proxy to fight one another, further destabilizing a country already torn by almost
2 decades of war. Of course, rebuilding wouldn’t be necessary
in the first place if the country wasn’t bombed into oblivion. The US spent an ungodly amount of money on
bombs alone, which were dropped on major infrastructures during the shock and awe campaign in the opening
salvo of the Iraq war. And remember, it’s a war that was based
on lies made up by warmongering neoconservatives, trying to secure the hegemony of the American
empire. The thing though, sometimes America doesn’t
even need a war to dig its claws into a country. Sometimes, it just needs to wait until a natural
disaster happens. Which is exactly what happened in… The American imperial ambition in Haiti didn’t
start in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. From installing the Duvalier dictatorship
in 1957 to CIA backed coup in 1991 to exiling democratically elected president Aristide
in 2004, the US has been intervening in Haitian politics for a very long time. But the earthquake provided a way to strengthen
the American grip on the country. If you don’t remember or didn’t know,
a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, killing up to 300000 people and displacing
millions. The destruction caused by the earthquake was
immense, but for the purpose of this video, I’m going to focus instead on the recovery
effort. See, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the
American military swooped in and took control of everything, including the aid money pouring
in from all over the world. But that money ended up only being invested
in organizations and corporations that supported American interests, effectively implementing
neoliberal economic policies and ceding long-term control of the economy to American businesses. But more than just economic control, the earthquake
also ensured American political control of the country. See, even before the earthquake, there was
a UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti called MINUSTAH, which is French for United Nations
Stabilisation Mission in Haiti. And after the earthquake, it became an essential
security apparatus in the country. But instead of being a neutral party, MINUSTAH
itself actually undermined democracy by suppressing the left-populist Fenmi Lavalas party, the
same party led by democratically elected Jean-Baptiste Aristide who was forced out in 2004. So you can guess whose interest MINUSTAH served,
right? And that brings us to the current unrest in
Haiti. Originally, like in Ecuador, the announcement
that the government will end fuel subsidy sparked the protests, but the focus then shifted
to corruption allegations against the current president, Jovenel Moïse, after a report
came out detailing how he, and the previous three governments, embezzled $2 billion from
an oil deal with Venezuela. That money was supposed to be used to develop
the country, but was instead pocketed by a small ruling class of elites. See, while Haiti is nominally a democracy,
Moise’s election was anything but democratic. Only 18% of people actually voted during the
last election, which is one of the lowest in the world. So you wanna guess how he’s still in power
even without popular support? If you guessed because he gets support from
the US, then congratulations, you’re seeing the pattern. And in return, besides the economic control
of Haiti, America gets a partner in fighting Venezuela’s Maduro government in the Organization
of American States And so, just like in Iraq, we have unrest
triggered by an undemocratic government, a decaying or non-existent infrastructure, and
a strictly hierarchical system where the elites control most of the wealth and power as the
people languish in poverty. And, as governments always seem to do, they
reacted with impunity, dishing out violence left and right, in which 9 people have been
killed at the time of writing. The demands are similar too: they want the
current leader to get the fuck out and let the people have a voice in running the country. Sounds familiar, no? So at this point, you’ve probably figured
out the pattern, right? It always starts with past American intervention. It happened in Chile with Pinochet, it happened
in Ecuador twice with CIA backed coups, it happened in Iraq very recently, and it happened
in Haiti with the Duvalier dynasty. Then, labor movements were crushed, replaced
by harsh neoliberal policies of lax labor laws, deregulation, and acceleration of resource
exploitation. These neoliberal policies decimated social
welfare programs, public services funding, and infrastructure investment. These policies also created a hierarchical
society with a class of powerful ruling elite controlling wealth and power. If social welfare exists, debts will eventually
force the government to scale back or even abolish these programs. After a while, people will get sick and tired
of that shit and unrest will begin. In the past, oh, I don’t know, 40-50 years
this cycle has been coming on and off, usually mirroring the cycle of long-term debt. What I think is changing is the scale of it
all, mostly because the world’s population has grown and inequality is at its highest
since the 1960s. And this is literally happening all over the
world, and, more importantly I think, will begin to happen in more and more places as
the cycle of debt enter its deleveraging phase. The question then, when this thing shakes
the foundation of the current global capitalist order, which way will it bend towards? When a liberal democratic system, no matter
how superficial it is, starts failing, it will usually go to either fascism or socialism. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know
which one I prefer. Oh btw, if I’m missing other unrest in countries
like Lebanon, Catalonia, Indonesia, [Zizek], it’s because I only had a week to make this
so give me a break, alright? You might also be wondering why I’m not
including the big protest. Y’know, the one the media really seem to
love so much? the one in East Asia? The one involving video game and tech companies? Well, you gotta wait for that one because
that topic will be rolled into next month’s video, so stay tuned for that. That one is special because I think it will
be a sort of barometer of the things to come if you will. You’ll see.

15 Comments on "The Root of Global Unrest: Chile, Ecuador, Iraq, and Haiti"


  1. So when a government in a country that’s been ravaged by past and post colonialism that’s what you call a failed democracy, these are the people who suffer when the cameras are turned off Americans. You can’t turn second class citizens in and outside of your own borders and then just have the police shoot them like you have with 30% of the black American population which has been cut in half by government workers and the bigoted working class doing all the work for the capitalists

    Reply

  2. It's really kind of chilling to realize you're living in and benefitting from the country responsible for ruining so many lives.
    Great video, learned a lot.

    Reply

  3. The IMF saying that austerity measures harm a country is like when the CIA said that torture is an ineffective method of getting information.

    Reply

  4. I really admire the work you put in these types of videos. It's the quality I've been searching so long for. Thank you.

    Reply

  5. I am from Iraq and you described the situation in Iraq perfectly .also 81 more people were killed in the past 5 days making the number 230 deaths (at least) and the protest is still going.although the protest isn't just because of unemployment and corruption but also because the leaders of the political factions who formed the government fought against the Iraqi army in the war between iraq and iran back in the 80s which is humiliating to the Iraqi people and their armed winged (militias loyal to Iran) committed a lot of crimes recently including the rape of a 5 years old boy and his mother while saying religious chants of an Iranian nature and the assassination of many Iraqi public figures (writers and social media influencer) who were not conservative religiously or said something against Iran

    Reply

  6. "Chile is Neoliberal/Anarcho Capitalist Utopia" privatise everything and let the people fight over scraps.

    Reply

  7. have you got a patreon? can’t believe u managed to make this video in such a short time frame, i look forward to the next!

    Reply

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