It’s been an extraordinary few days in Latin America. On Friday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s charismatic former President, was released from prison after serving a year and a half of a twelve-year sentence. Two days later, Evo Morales, the embattled President of Bolivia, was forced to resign, at the suggestion of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and amid increasingly violent protests over the disputed results of his recent reëlection.
The Latin American chessboard became especially kinetic, as an American military man might say, in the past four weeks. A convulsive series of events began in mid-October, with unexpected angry protests in normally stable Chile. The protests, triggered by a hike in metro fares, spread widely, rocking the government of the conservative billionaire Sebastián Piñera and setting off a sort of existential crisis, across the social spectrum, over issues of inequality and inclusion. Chile’s eruption was followed, a week later, by Bolivia’s Presidential elections, in which the leftist Morales, controversially running for a fourth term, was declared the winner.