Proceedings of The 3rd World Conference on Social Sciences
Differing Responses to Protests: A Case Study on Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, Uruguay
Recently, both Venezuela and Ecuador proposed cutting fuel subsidies and had widespread protests as a result. While Ecuador decided to offer peace talks to end these protests, why did Venezuela not? Existing literature points to the presence of economic crises or fraudulent elections creating a tense environment leading up to the protests but focuses exclusively on democracy protests. My paper addresses the issue of economic reform around fuel with special attention to Latin America. Specifically, I use a qualitative case study with Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, and Uruguay to compare and understand the explanatory power of two competing hypotheses. I argue that a country with only positive foreign investments will offer peace talks or economic reform to end protests because the state wants to maintain attractiveness to foreign investments. Protests signal instability and scare investors away, so the state will try to end protests to assure businesses are safe. By contrast, a country with negative foreign investments will not offer anything to end protests because they are aware there is little foreign interest and do not have to look attractive. In conclusion, by examining protest outcomes related to economic reform, we can understand the influences of state behavior around protests. Policy implications range from fuel-related trade relations to national re-election outcomes due to economic reforms passed by the current state.
Keywords: Protests, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, Columbia.