Swanson: People Of The World Unite In Solidarity For The Struggle


Protestors in Hong Kong in June 2019 (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

For the last seven months, the protestors of Hong Kong have been fighting one of the most powerful governments in the world. It has been going on for so long that it has changed from a backlash against an extradition bill and developed into a fight for democracy itself. The protestors of Hong Kong have set off a global phenomenon of citizen upheaval. The people of the world are rising up. Hong Kong started their protest against Chinese extradition at the end of March, and now there are global protests that are setting the world aflame. From South America to the Middle East, common working people have taken to the streets in pursuit of the common goal to end government overreach and economic injustice. The fight they share is similar to the struggle of working-class Americans, and it is important for those in the United States to be aware of it and to show solidarity in the good fight.

Chile’s demonstrations have been a long time coming. What started as resistance against a rise in fare for Santiago’s metro rail system has grown into a long list of grievances. The impoverished and working-class of the country are calling upon their government to address them. They are speaking out against poor pensions, expensive healthcare and disparities in education between the wealthy and everyone else. The protests started out relatively peaceful, with protestors occupying the metro stations and crowds banging pots outside government buildings. It has since turned violent, with armored vehicles and soldiers patrolling the streets and protesters donning masks before upping the ante on civil disobedience. It has caused the most violence that Chile has faced since the reign of military dictator Augusto Pinochet, with 18 people dead and 5,000 arrested.

In Iraq, the youth have rallied against corruption and economic inequality. The demand is for an overhaul of the current political system for one that will address the students’ concerns over political dishonesty, high unemployment and rising cost of living. The protest has only been going since the beginning of October, but it has already risen to the top as one of the bloodiest civil incursions this year. The protest has been mostly comprised of young men, and the government has shown little restraint in using violence as over 230 have died. It is the latest point of unrest in a country that has had to survive dictatorship, American war and ISIS occupation in just the last 20 years.

Haiti recently reached its tipping point in regards to frustration the people find with their government. President Jovenel Moïse has been disfavored by the Haitian public for a few years now due to skyrocketing inflation, plummeting currency and government inaction. The government has not voted on a budget for two years and there is currently no prime minister. People have gotten to the point where they are lighting cars on fire in order for their message to be heard. The struggle has brought Haiti, an already impoverished nation, to the brink. Their president refuses to step down and the public doesn’t have much left to lose.

This list has been a bit of a bummer, so allow me to end it on a high note. Another protest has been going on in Lebanon, sparked by government inaction to battle wildfires that ravaged the countryside this month and the now-infamous tax on internet call services like WhatsApp. Lebanon is a very divided nation culturally speaking, making it hard for Lebanese citizens to agree on anything ,  but they seem to be united on this. In a country where 55% of the people are Muslim and nearly 40% are Christian, the divide that separates these two communities has blurred into a unified Lebanon standing up to Hezbollah. It’s still upsetting to read about the violence that has come about from this uprising, but the story of the Lebanese people and their solidarity is a moving and empowering one and is perhaps a story we should take inspiration from in future tales of struggle.

These are just a few of the desperate struggles faced by working people across the world. Protests like these mark a considerable shift in attitude throughout 2019, a year characterized by civil unrest. Protests like the ones in Chile, Iraq, Haiti and Lebanon show a people at their limit. Other global uprisings like the climate strikes and protests in Catalonia and Pakistan demonstrate the need for change. The patience for political promises of prosperity and fairness are starting to wear thin for the most disillusioned citizens of society.

They are now standing up against the dysfunction of governments that protect the status quo and wealthiest rather than address the crippling hardships faced by the average person. These protests are bringing these nations to a standstill. Property is being damaged and lives are being lost. While average Americans may have it better than the people of these countries in general, we too face similar struggles regarding the disparity in quality of life between the wealthy elite and the average American. Just as Americans have shown support for Hong Kong in their fight against the Communist Party in China, they too should stand in solidarity with the workers and students of the world.


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