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2019: A Year of Protests


Anti-government protesters react to tear gas during a protest on Christmas Eve at Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, China, December 24, 2019. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
2019: A Year of Protests
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The year 2019 will be remembered for protests around the world, with millions of people taking to the streets from Catalonia to Colombia, Haiti to Hong Kong.

In many cases, the demonstrations turned violent. Security forces, for example, killed several hundred people in Iran, Iraq and other countries. Tear gas became a common sight in traditionally peaceful Hong Kong.

Each protest movement had its own reasons.

But there were some issues that united the protests. The Reuters news agency spoke with some protesters to better understand their motivations.

“This is a universal demand for democracy and fairness,” said Jasper, who works at a Hong Kong bank. The 27-year-old did not provide his surname and wore a mask on his face to hide his identity.

Jasper noted that, “Every country in the world faces the same situation. This will not be an easy road, but we all know we are doing the right thing.”

Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government rally in Algiers, Algeria December 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government rally in Algiers, Algeria December 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina


In Algeria, Amiri Yacine also feels his demands are universal. He joined demonstrations against a group of elites that has controlled his country for many years.

“I am protesting against injustice and dictatorship. We want to build a new Algeria,” Yacine said.

The 26-year-old added, “My message to protesters is just be peaceful - be wise and keep calm. Fight the system with good ideas, because they don’t have ideas.”

Anti-government demonstrators shield themselves amid the spray of a police water cannon trying to disperse them in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.
Anti-government demonstrators shield themselves amid the spray of a police water cannon trying to disperse them in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.


Chile’s Alex Munoz Fuentes is 47-years-old and works as an accountant. While standing in front of a burning barricade on a Santiago street, he told Reuters “people in the world are tired of injustice.”

“I don’t want anything given for free,” he said, the national flag in one hand and a pair of goggles in the other. “But I know that in Chile, the institutions, the law and the constitution are made to abuse the working classes. I want a new deal.”

Andres Felipe Vargas of Colombia is a professor. He recently joined an anti-government strike in the capital, Bogota.

“Right now we are in a stage of awakening and we have to take advantage of that,” he said.

“What is happening in our country, and these injustices that generate inequities, are the same injustices that are destroying the planet,” he said.

I'm John Russell.

Hillary Russ reported on this story for the Reuters news agency. John Russell adapted the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

motivation – n. the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something

universal - adj. existing or true at all times or in all places

surname – n. a name shared by members of a family

accountant n. a job of keeping or inspecting financial records

stagen. one in a series of positions

advantage – n. a better position or condition; gain

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