May-30-14 - by Rosendo Fraga
1. A hundred days ago, in a medium-sized country of each continent, the power was challenged simultaneously by protests in the streets. In Europe, that country was Ukraine. President Yanucovich was cornered by the pro-European opposition that dominated the streets - despite the violent repression - and adopted contradictory measures, hardening and easing up his position from one day to the next. The dead were nearing 80, the wounded were hundreds and the opposition was organizing armed militias. Under this pressure, he left power, seeking asylum in Russia and denouncing a coup d'etat. The events unfolded very quickly. As the pro-European interim Government sought to gain a foothold, the pro-Russians of the province of Crimea demonstrated, asking for their autonomy and the annexation to Russia. They were organized militarily - active cooperation from the Russian Armed Forces – and occupied Government offices, besieged the Ukrainian military bases, convened a referendum and in a few weeks their intention to be part of Russia was materialized. With the support of Moscow, similar movements started in other regions of the Russian-speaking majority (Donetsk and Lugansk) and the same plan was carried out. On the basis of a referendum held on May 11, they declared themselves independent and asked to be part of Russia. Meanwhile, the pro-European provisional Government from Kiev, despite conflicts unleashed and the constant announcement of Putin that the country was headed towards a civil war, managed to make an election to choose a new President on May 25, where pro-European tycoon was elected. Today, at the end of May, heavy fighting is waged in Donetsk with dozens of deaths and hundreds of wounded, in the attempt of the pro-European Ukrainian Government to submit to the pro-Russian enclaves with the exception of Crimea, where the Russian military occupation makes the secession irreversible.
2. In Asia, the Government challenged from the streets was Thailand. November 30 was the day when strong protests broke out in the capital city (Bangkok), calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister (Shinawatra), the younger sister of a populist leader removed from office for corruption years before. The opposition middle classes - with the designation of "yellow-shirts" – had been for almost three months in protests, which were violently suppressed. The government supporters, known as "red shirts", were trying to not lose control of the street. The combination of repression and confrontation between factions claimed a toll of 28 dead and 700 wounded. After a truce, the Prime Minister was forced to resign and an interim Government took over, dominated by its own supporters but failed to resolve the crisis. Already in April this year, and in view of the growing anarchy, the Army started to take action. First as the mediator between factions, then taking partial functions on security and finally consummating a coup d'etat with the intention of maintaining order and strengthening the monarchy, an institution which has weight in the country. It is the ninth coup since 1952, but takes place when the international community rejects this type of movement. The same international community that validated the fall of Yanukovich, has rejected the coming to power of the Thai military.
3. In Africa, it was Egypt, where a civilian de-facto Government seized power following the ouster of President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was challenged on the streets by its own supporters. The Army, which had dismissed the elected Islamic Government and appointed the civil de-facto government, intensified a harsh repression of the supporters of Morsi. In this case it is difficult to know the number of deaths and wounded - which took place between the factions clashing on the streets and in the repression- but the dead are dozens and the wounded are hundreds. While observers thought that the country was heading towards a civil war, the repression was effective, Morsi and most of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are prisoners and tried and there are hundreds of death sentences in first instance courts against Islamists, that must be confirmed by courts of second and third instance. In the following weeks, the presidential candidacy of the head of the army starting taking root (Sisi), who was elected in the elections held on 26 and 27 May. In the country, where three years and four months ago, the crowd in the Tahir Square pushed the resignation of Mubarak, now the political model of the mid-20th century comes to life, successively represented by Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak: a military leader elected in the framework of an authoritarian regime.
4. In the Americas, one hundred days ago the protests of the Venezuelan opposition started, having students as their most dynamic element. The repression of President Maduro has been severe: the dead exceed 40, the wounded nearly reach thousand and the detained opponents are hundreds. Between late April and early May, the Foreign Ministers of UNASUR and the Nuncio succeeded in a process of dialogue between the Government and the moderate wing of the opposition, which is now suspended by continuing government repression and the failure to meet the conditions of the opposition to continue it. The economy deteriorates strongly, with inflation exceeding 40% annually, recession, isolation due to the exodus of foreign airlines and the import ban due to the lack of dollars - even though the country has the largest oil reserves recognized in the world and with the support of the majority of South American Governments to Maduro, which has been cooling as weeks went by. Until when will the Army support the continuity of Maduro is a key factor in the evolution of this conflict.
5. To conclude:
a) One hundred days ago, and in each continent, in a medium-sized country the government was challenged from the streets, putting continuity at risk in parallel but different processes.
b) In Ukraine and Thailand, the heads of government are no longer in office and have been removed. In the former, a “low-intensity civil war” is taking place and a military coup occurred in the latter.
c) In Venezuela, Maduro’s Government resists but deteriorated, and in Egypt, the appointment of General Sisi means the return to the model of an authoritarian military leader.
d) The four processes analyzed show that the claim on the streets can topple a government as a parallel expression to representative democracy.