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Taking cover from a water cannon in Santiago, Chile. Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

Venezuela, Brazil, and more recently Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile have been in the news because of violent protests and uprisings.

The big picture: One thing's for sure — it's not because of any one political system. Venezuela has had a quasi-communist regime for almost 20 years, Chile has had a totally different pro-market approach, while Bolivia and Ecuador have had their own peculiar mixes of socialism and capitalism. But each society has gone through similar social crises in recent months.

Flashback: For a whole decade, the region experienced a boom linked with China's apparently endless need for commodities — copper, soybean, oil.

  • This sudden prosperity allowed for extensive welfare programs with which every government was able to cover up a lot of the endemic problems in a region with terrible records on crime, inequality and corruption.
  • As this wave of imported prosperity waned, social dissatisfaction grew, particularly in countries where the new wealth was channeled into subsidies and programs meant to buy social peace rather than to finance deep reforms.

But there is another reason for this sudden mess: Latin America's historic deficit in democratic institutions.

  • No region in the world has a similar record of coups, revolutions and regime change caused by social instability.
  • Add a love for populism and demagogic leaders, and mix in modern elements like social media and fake news, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

That's what you are witnessing in many countries of the region these days.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 19 mins ago - World

Russia says it fired warning shots at British destroyer in Black Sea

The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: WaPo Trump book's secret title revealed

Cover: Penguin Press

The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker will be out July 20 with "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year," Penguin Press announced.

Breaking: Axios has learned that The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender is moving "Frankly, We Did Win the Election" up to July 20, matching Leonnig-Rucker, from his earlier pub date of Aug. 10.

Shell and GM unveil partnership on Texas power and car-charging

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

General Motors and a Shell-owned power company will unveil a partnership on Wednesday aimed at providing renewable electricity to Texas customers and free overnight charging to state residents who own GM electric cars.

Why it matters: It’s a new way for two corporate giants to expand their operations in a way that lowers emissions at the customer and supplier level.