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Hong Kong, Spain, Bolivia, Venezuela and France: We are Living in a Period of Global Protest



U.S. Protests on the Rise since President Trump’s Controversial Election

Over the past few years, protest culture has been on the rise in the United States. Especially since the election of President Trump, unsatisfied and rebellious Americans have received lots of media attention for picketing events, blocking roadways, and putting on rallies to advocate for policies and movements they deem paramount. 

Most of the time, these protests are done in the name of progress and productive change for society. Frustrated with inaction, contemporary American activists call out politicians and people in power to prioritize topics such as climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, pro-choice agendas, and positive race relations. 

For every protestor though, there seems to be an anti-protestor with opposing beliefs, making the United States seem like a very contentious place. While this ultimate clause carries some truth, it fails to notice that political diversity and contentiousness is not unique to America in the modern age. While not every country has a Trump-like figure to personify its national discord, places all around the world are responding to the threat of tyranny with activism and protest—and in some places, the situations are far more severe than what goes on here in the States.

Paris “Yellow Vest” Protest is an Anniversary of Political Unrest amongst French Populace

Recently in Paris, France, the city had the anniversary of its “yellow vest” protests. The “yellow vest” protest (known as gilets jaunes in French) first took place in November 2018. When an army of Francophones uniformly dressed in yellow vests took to the streets of Paris, the protest was the French people’s way of showing anti-government sentiments and a desire for political change in accordance with the populace’s desires. 

Since the initial protest last year, the yellow vesters have been active with smaller protests around the nation, but they reunited in Paris for the one-year reunion with massive numbers. When the movement tried to occupy the city’s roads though, the police fought back using tear gas and water cannons. It was overall a chaotic and brutal image of conflict that speaks volumes to France’s current state.

Latinx Countries in Europe and South America have a Swelling Tide of National Revolts

Protest-related conflict also went down in France’s neighboring Spain this week. Spain’s Catalan region in the northeast corner of the country has desired independence for a long time now. With unique customs and dialect, Catalan is culturally different from the rest of Spain, and its people relish in its separatism.

Spain, however, has been dismissive to the region’s pleas for autonomy. Recently, the federal government even imprisoned nine separatist leaders from Catalan. Moreover, the region’s president Quim Torra is currently on trial for disobedience after he refused to take separatist symbols down from public buildings. In response, many Catalan protestors took to Barcelona’s main train station last Saturday, crowding the busy junction wielding regional symbols and refusing to leave. The situation is likely to only get hotter as Torra’s trial continues. 

In the western hemisphere, South America has no shortage of national rebellions. Bolivia has seen a slew of intense protests both leading up to and following President Evo Morales’ resignation from office. Similarly, the Venezuelan people continue to rebel against President Nicolas Maduro, taking to the streets to try and oust the leader from office and avoid dictatorship in troubling times.

Hong Kong Protests Continue as they Fight for Independence from China

And then, of course, there is Hong Kong—the center stage of national protests that has probably received the most media coverage over the past month. Upset with the Chinese government’s attempts and perceived threats to roll back the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, Hong Kong has been striving for independence for decades now. Currently, they are at what seems to be a tipping point. However, their activism has been met with opposition from the Beijing government, as well as the local officials and now the city has erupted in civil disobedience, combat, and violence. Before the recent wave of elections, where the pro-democracy candidates were almost universally victorious, at a protest near the city’s Polytechnic University, citizens set off petrol bombs and fired arrows into crowds as the police fought back with tear gas. 

While the Present Looks Dark, the Future is Hopeful

This is the state of the world where we currently reside. There is even more unrest going on worldwide than that which we see within America’s borders. On a global scale, things are muddy, people are divided, and in many situations, conditions seem at times as if they are perpetually hopeless. Nevertheless, although times are dark right now, people are innovative and actively striving towards a new light, one that could, hopefully, shine brightly towards the future. These worldwide protests may come off as incoherent conflicts at the moment, but purpose lies behind every movement, and there are no limits to what can be accomplished when people come together with good intentions and an undying spirit.

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