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Drivers of civil unrest in Latin America

04 October 2021 Ailsa Rosales Carla Selman Carlos Cardenas Veronica Burford

Latin American countries are gradually beginning to reopen after 18 months of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-virus-related restrictions. Although the region is set to grow in 2021, long-run political and economic-related grievances have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Here are a few factors to watch in the coming months.

Corruption: Increasing corruption-related scandals leading to road blockades and business interruption, particularly in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Tax increases: To replace pandemic-related revenue shortfalls, if they affect the population, such as the proposed VAT rises in Colombia and Costa Rica.

Crime: Increased incidents of crime, such as robbery and extortion, during the post-pandemic downturn, likely to trigger protests in countries such as Mexico and Haiti.

Prior consultation and natural resources: Local indigenous communities demanding prior consultation or opposing extractive projects or use of water resources in countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.

Gender and equality issues: Unrest against gender violence in Mexico and Argentina and to demand equality in Chile.

Healthcare: Demands for access to the COVID-19 vaccine, as several governments are behind their vaccination targets, such as Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.

Elections: Politically motivated protests in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Honduras, and Nicaragua in the run-up to elections, or over the political transition in Haiti and calls for free elections in Venezuela.

Economic policy: Unrest over spending cuts and privatization efforts in Brazil, Ecuador, and Uruguay and demands for COVID-19 financial assistance across the region. Changes to the state-controlled model in Cuba.

Job protection: Unrest against dismissals during the pandemic, demands for employment and higher salaries, including in Argentina, Ecuador, and Mexico

Police brutality: Against security forces seen as using excessive violence when containing protests or enforcing COVID-19-virus-related restrictions, including in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia.

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Posted 04 October 2021 by Ailsa Rosales, Country Risk Analyst, Latin America and Caribbean, S&P Global Market Intelligence and

Carla Selman, Principal Research Analyst, Country Risk, S&P Global Market Intelligence and

Carlos Cardenas, Director, Latin America Country Risk and Forecasting, S&P Global Market Intelligence and

Veronica Retamales Burford, Senior Research Analyst, Latin America Country Risk, S&P Global Market Intelligence


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