A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe
Demonstrators place their hands over their hearts as the U.S. national anthem is played during the “Thanksgiving Day Assembly for Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” at Edinburgh Place in the Central district of Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

(Bloomberg Markets) -- Economies on the verge of collapse, a yearning for greater democracy, revulsion against corruption and inequality–the grievances that drove people into the streets in 2019 were consistent across continents. Some marched peacefully, others clashed violently with security forces, and in at least five places the unrest helped topple government leaders.

A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

Below is a breakdown of protests around the world, by region, and the main reasons behind them.


A defining movement of 2019 was the worldwide push for more urgent government action against what scientists and activists call a climate emergency. Demonstrations took place around the globe, many inspired by the 2018 school strikes started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.


A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

① Puerto Rico
After a hurricane, bankruptcy, and probes into corruption, Puerto Ricans ousted Governor Ricardo Rosselló in July.

② Venezuela
Hyperinflation and hunger have driven opposition to the repressive regime of Nicolás Maduro. So far, he’s dug in.

③ Colombia
President Ivan Duque promised to lower taxes for the poorest quintile of the country after unrest led to the deaths of at least four, including a teenager.

④ Ecuador
When fuel subsidies ended, chaos ensued. The government rescinded the price hikes days later.

⑤ Bolivia
President Evo Morales presided over economic growth but ignored term limits. He was forced out on Nov. 10.

⑥ Chile
Anger at increases in public transport costs grew into a broad-based movement protesting inequality.


A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

① Scotland
More than 200,000 marched through Edinburgh in support of independence from the United Kingdom.

② U.K.
Britain has seen mass demonstrations both for and against Brexit, which is destined to define the country’s future.

③ France
A year into the yellow vest protests, the demonstrations have waned in size, but the grievances remain.

④ Catalonia
The impasse between Catalonia and Spain’s government in Madrid flared anew, with no resolution in sight.

⑤ Czech Republic
Prime Minister Andrej Babis, one of the country’s richest men, was a target of the biggest protests since 1989.

⑥ Slovakia
Slovaks took to the streets in October to demand investigations into crimes and the rooting out of government corruption.

⑦ Russia
Moscow has been the center of the largest antigovernment rallies in seven years.

Africa and the Middle East

A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

① Algeria
Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sought a fifth term, prompting unrest. He resigned in April.

② Lebanon
A levy on WhatsApp calls sparked pent-up anger, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in October.

③ Iraq
Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi quit after hundreds died in protests against government corruption and influence from Iran.

④ Iran
Fuel-price hikes resulting from U.S. sanctions sparked protests that led to more than 200 deaths, Amnesty International said.

⑤ Sudan
Omar al-Bashir crushed dissent during his 30-year presidency, but discontent over prices led to unrest that forced him out in April.

⑥ Malawi
Allegations of election rigging prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets of Malawi’s cities in August.

⑦ South Africa
Poor government services and a lack of housing were the primary reasons for violent demonstrations that broke out in April.

East Asia and Oceania 

A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the Globe

① South Korea
Tens of thousands protested the appointment of Cho Kuk as minister of justice. He left after five weeks on the job.

② Hong Kong
A June rally against a proposed law allowing extradition to China morphed into a broad anti-China movement.

③ Indonesia
October protests raged against the government’s program, including controversial changes to the criminal code.

④ Papua
In Indonesia’s easternmost region, clashes between separatists and government forces in August and September resulted in many deaths.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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