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East Asia’s Political Vulnerability

East Asia has a long tradition of forward-thinking policymaking. At a time of serious economic, political, and social challenges, the region must uphold that tradition – or Latin America’s tumultuous present may be its future.

SEOUL – Popular discontent is fueling protest and paralysis across Latin America. If East Asia isn’t careful, it could be next.

In Ecuador, protests against anti-austerity measures, including the reduction of fuel subsidies, forced President Lenín Moreno to declare a state of emergency. In Chile, it was a modest increase in Santiago’s metro fares that triggered large-scale demonstrations, which soon evolved to take aim at inequality and weaknesses in the education and pension systems.

In Argentina, the people expressed their economic frustrations at the ballot box, electing the Peronist presidential candidate Alberto Fernández. In Bolivia, the electoral route was compromised: President Evo Morales violated the constitution by standing for a fourth term, declared victory despite widespread concerns about fraud, and then resigned after weeks of protests.

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