What we're watching: "Unfare" protests in Chile

What we're watching: "Unfare" protests in Chile

"Unfare" protests in Chile: You wouldn't think a 3 percent fare hike to ride the metro would plunge one of Latin America's most prosperous countries into days of deadly protests, looting, and fires. But that's the scene in Chile right now, where the government of President Sebastian Piñera has imposed a state of emergency to contain the chaos. He's already cancelled the fare hike, but this explosion of anger is about more than the take at the turnstile. Chile, long one of Latin America's most stable and steadily growing economies, has run into a common problem with rapid growth: as incomes rise and a middle class emerges, consumers expect access to good schools, hospitals, and roads—and affordable public transport. If government doesn't deliver, expectations become frustrations, with huge political consequences. It wasn't so long ago that similar protests over a 10-cent hike for bus fares in Sao Paulo plunged Brazil into its worst political and economic crisis in a generation.


Trudeau hangs on in Canada: The embattled Canadian leader will return as prime minister, albeit leading a minority government, after his Liberals won a plurality of seats in Monday's national elections. This was a tough fight for Trudeau, whose image as a competent torch-bearer for pro-immigration, pro-free-trade liberalism in a time of rising nationalism and trade wars has been marred by a political influence scandal and revelations that he had appeared in blackface as a younger man. But with 99 percent of the votes counted in the wee hours on Tuesday, his Liberals looked set to hold onto 157 seats – 13 short of a governing majority – while holding off a resurgent Conservative Party led by the opposition leader Andrew Scheer. Although, Trudeau appears to have lost the popular vote, 33 percent vs Conservatives' 34 percent. A chastened Trudeau won't find it as easy to govern in his second term as he is forced to ally with Canada's smaller, left-leaning New Democratic Party to make progress on individual issues like climate change and social reforms. But for now, he's still standing.

Lebanon's "revolution": Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors across Lebanon are in the streets demanding the resignation of the current government and an end to political corruption. There's plenty to protest: Public debt has ballooned, and a withering economy has forced young people to leave the country to find good jobs abroad. But it was last week's announcement of a new tax on calls made using free internet messaging services, including WhatsApp and FaceTime, that pushed many over the edge. Protestors from across Lebanon's sectarian groups have pledged to continue a general strike, Lebanon's largest in almost two decades, despite the resignations of four members of the government, sharp cuts in the salaries of top officials, and the passage of other major economic reforms. They've now called for a "revolution," and we're watching to see what might change their minds. We are also listening to the music at this protest-turned-rave in Tripoli.

Haiti's Implosion: A year-long political standoff between President Jovenel Moïse and an opposition movement demanding his ouster has now closed roads, shuttered schools, hospitals, and businesses, and brought the economy to a standstill. Food, fuel, and patience are in short supply. Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, is no stranger to political dysfunction, but this is a political and economic crisis that is slowly strangling its most vulnerable citizens.

What We're Ignoring

"Iranian" hackers: Cyber analysts in the UK and US have uncovered evidence that cyber-attacks designed to steal secrets from more than 35 countries were not, as it initially seemed, carried out by Iranians. A Russian organization, in fact, had hacked into an Iranian group's system, stolen its tools, and ran its operations in ways meant to look like Iran was behind them. We are paying attention to this as an example of how cyberthreats are growing as national governments get deeper into the hacking game. But we're ignoring this particular attack by Iranians because this particular attack wasn't by Iranians.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

More Show less

It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

More Show less

The Biden administration is finally devoting more attention to Southeast Asia. Last week US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, marking the first regional visit by a Biden cabinet official. A trip by Vice President Kamala Harris is already in the works as well, and this week Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet (virtually) with ASEAN counterparts.

The flurry of activity comes after earlier concerns that President Joe Biden was neglecting Southeast Asia, the region where US-China rivalry is the most intense. To understand better what Austin's visit meant, and what comes next, Eurasia Group's lead Southeast Asia analyst Peter Mumford spoke to us from Singapore.

More Show less

Raisi won't have it easy: The newly "elected" president of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, was officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. In his inaugural address, the 60-year-old hardliner pledged to get US sanctions removed and to respond to rising socioeconomic grievances within Iran, but he warned that he wouldn't lash Iran's prosperity or survival to "the will of foreigners." In Iran, the president's role focuses mainly on domestic policy, but with the economy reeling one of Raisi's big early challenges will be to continue complicated talks with the Biden administration to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, which would lead to the US lifting some of the harshest sanctions. Both sides say they want a new deal, and have gone through half a dozen rounds of negotiations already, but they remain at odds over who should make what concessions first. Raisi also pledged to restore Iranians' flagging trust in their government and to improve the economic situation, but in ways that are in line with "revolutionary principles." He'll have his hands full with that. And don't forget that the likely imminent (re)takeover of neighboring Afghanistan by the Taliban — whom Tehran don't like at all — will also occur on Raisi's watch. Good luck, Mr. President, you'll need it.

More Show less

158: To boost vaccination rates, New York City will soon require proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test to enter gyms and restaurants, as daily new infections in the Big Apple have jumped 158 percent over the past two weeks due to the more contagious delta variant. New York is the first major US city to take this step, following similar schemes already in place in France and Italy.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal