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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

Behind GameStop's latest stock surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Back in focus: The meme stock trade.

By the numbers: GameStop finished up 19%, after a wild day that saw shares spike as much as 80%.

AT&T spins off U.S. video business via deal with TPG

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

AT&T is spinning off three of its video services, including its satellite TV brand DirecTV, to create a new standalone video company called New DIRECTV.

Details: The company will be jointly owned by AT&T and private-equity giant TPG. AT&T will retain a 70% stake and TPG will own 30% of the firm.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're saying: “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.