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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

24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas four Trump aides

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to former President Trump for testimony and documents.

Why it matters: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon were all in touch "with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection," the committee said in a release.