No menu items!

Analysis: from Peru to Brazil to Bolivia and Honduras – LatAm is increasingly resembling a powder keg

By Romeo Rey*

Peru has been rocked by severe unrest since the impeachment and arrest of leftist President Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7.

Thousands of Peruvians from rural regions of the Andean country have recently come on foot or in buses to the capital Lima to protest against the government of Castillo’s successor, Dina Boluarte.

Read also: check out our coverage of the new multipolar world

According to information from the daily newspaper La República, dozens of roadblocks have been set up on essential routes, especially in the country’s south.

Particularly affected are the touristically important connections around Cusco and Puno.

Peru, Analysis: from Peru to Brazil to Bolivia and Honduras – LatAm is increasingly resembling a powder keg

The ongoing protests have repeatedly led to serious clashes with the security forces, who have used brutal force against demonstrators.

More than 50 people have died since the nationwide unrest began in December. Based on Associated Press reporting, the Argentine newspaper Clarín chronicled the confusing developments up to Jan. 19.

After the first deaths became known, Dina Boluarte reportedly offered her resignation to the government. However, the chairman of the Council of Ministers had been able to change her mind.

On Saturday, Parliament rejected a request by President Dina Boluarte to hold new elections this year in light of the crisis.

Last month, the parliament had already voted by a large majority in favor of early elections in April 2024.

Not entirely new in the history of Latin America, but striking is the fact that the unrest is emanating from geographically and socially marginalized areas and is now erupting with full force in Lima – once the center of the Spanish colonial empire in southern America.

It is no coincidence that the rioters’ protest is also directed against exploiting natural wealth by transnational foreign companies that are taxed far too low.

The rotten fruits of neoliberalism of the past three decades have fallen in the middle of the political crisis and have further poisoned the mood in the nation of 33 million people.

Peru in flames. (Photo internet reproduction)
Peru is in flames. (Photo internet reproduction)


Another aspect of the subcontinent’s growing immiseration – just one of many – has been examined by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO).

The report notes that over one-third of Latin America’s aging population receives neither a pension nor other old-age benefits.

These people depend on help from relatives, most of whom are poor or have to get by on handouts.

It remains unclear how many Latinos and Latinas receive a pension that is never sufficient for a halfway dignified life in old age.

In addition, neoliberal economic policies have reduced the public postal service in many Latin American countries to minimal services or eliminated it because of the lack of profit opportunities.

As a result, pensioners and retirees have to queue up every month in public or private offices to receive their meager credit.

The ILO recommends a richly utopian ten-point plan for the countries concerned to counteract the misery.


A thorough review of the storming of the seat of government, Congress, and the Supreme Court in Brazil by Bolsonaro hordes can be read in the latest issue of the “IPG Journal.”

Few would have expected such explicit scenes of violence in the “square of the three powers” a week after Lula da Silva took office.

After the riots, President Lula dismissed the previous army commander and replaced him with a new man.

He is expected to submit to the civilian authorities without any ifs or buts.

However, the line of generals with one to four stars is longer in Brazil than anywhere else south of the Rio Grande.

Many of them can only be expected to submit to the authority of the left-leaning president through gritted teeth.

Former president Jair Bolsonaro left for the United States before the power transfer.

It is to be expected that from Florida, he will try to use his fanatical following as a political maneuvering mass.

Like his role model Donald Trump, Bolsonaro, who lost the election, claims the presidential election was rigged.

But since the introduction of the electronic voting system, there have been no substantiated complaints in Brazil – including in the most recent ballot – about how it worked.

Invasion of the Brazilian Congress on Jan. 8. (Photo internet reproduction)
Invasion of the Brazilian Congress on Jan. 8. (Photo internet reproduction)


The arrest of the governor of Santa Cruz and Bolivia’s opposition leader, Luis Fernando Camacho, did not calm the landlocked country of Bolivia, which has 12 million inhabitants.

A local commentator for “Nueva Sociedad” analyzes the factors contributing to the mutual upsurge of supporters and opponents of the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) government, which has ruled with a brief interruption since 2006.

The immediate cause of the discord could be considered minor. Still, it is significant insofar as it concerns the next census, on the results of which the distribution of parliamentary seats in the country’s nine departamentos could crucially depend.

While the government in La Paz wants to postpone this date as far into the future as possible so that the demographic change would not impact until the next but one election, the opposition forces in the eastern lowlands are pushing for the census to be conducted more quickly.

The Central American state of Honduras, where a moderate left-wing government took the helm in elections a few months ago, also continues to experience turbulent times.

President Xiomara Castro sees the fight against the mara gangs, feared in large parts of the region, as her most important task.

A state of emergency has been declared in the country for this purpose.

Castro believes this is the right course and points to official statistics on violence. But such emergency measures are a hot potato in Honduras.

Recently, this has repeatedly led to excessive repression that conservative predecessors tolerated in office, from which popular organizations have suffered greatly.

Some lawyers and human rights activists warn the government that the police and military may have trouble distinguishing between friend and foe in this struggle in the long run.

For Spanish speakers, an interview with Nicaragua’s best-known poet and writer, Gioconda Belli, is a treat in more ways than one.

On the one hand, the conversation deals with the difficult chapter of Sandinismo según Ortega.

On the other hand, it also focuses on the often thankless role of women in culture, politics, and society in this part of the world – and does so in the sensitive yet powerful voice of a multiple prize-winner who now lives in exile in Spain.

Luis Fernando Camacho, Bolivia's opposition leader. (Photo internet reproduction)
Luis Fernando Camacho, Bolivia’s opposition leader. (Photo internet reproduction)


From Venezuela, this time a “dry” message: The news portal “amerika21” reports that London continues to place its post-imperial hand on a considerable part of the gold reserves of the South American oil state.

What is this? Paternalism? Expropriation? Tangible interference in the internal affairs of a foreign country?

Partisanship for a shadow government that never existed in reality and whose “chairman” disappeared from the scene some time ago?

If such self-empowerment becomes the norm, many other nations that do not make their hay on the same stage as the British on every issue would have to think twice before entrusting their gold reserves to the Bank of England.

* The author was a correspondent in South America for 33 years for the left-leaning “Tages-Anzeiger,” one of the Swiss newspapers of reference 

This post was published first here. 

Check out our other content