Photo: Occupy Wall Street in Latin America
It’s a paradox that the only foreign-language kiosk set-up in Zuccotti Park, the site that has been “occupied” by Occupy Wall Street is for Spanish-language information, when, throughout Latin America, the movement has met with little enthusiasm.
While Occupied Wall Street has resonated with people around the world, inspiring demonstrations from London to Taiwan, Seattle to Sydney and Rome to Tokyo, the movement has failed to ignite the imagination of Latin Americans.
At a time when thousands of people have gathered to protest from New York’s Times Square to the piazzas adjacent to Rome’s Coliseum, the number of protesters in major Latin American cities has been in the hundreds at best. In Mexico City, the largest city in Latin America, an estimated 250 people assembled at the Monument to the Mexican Revolution, and in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, fewer than 40 demonstrators showed up for a protest. The largest reported assembly has taken place in Buenos Aires in Argentina, but this was a bicycle festival that showcased the work of local artists, and it is estimated that only 800 people showed up for that street-like fair.
Why are Latin Americans indifferent to a spontaneous uprising of public discontent across the U.S., throughout Europe and around the world?
The reason lies in the nature of the global discontent, and the factors that have, until now, insulated Latin America.
These concerns, however, have found little resonance in Latin America. The challenge for the largest nations of the region – Brazil, Mexico and Argentina – is managing the growth they are experiencing. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is confronting the possibility of an overheated economy, meaning that Brazil may be growing too quickly, overvaluing the nation’s currency and risking inflation. Last summer, Ben Laidler, a strategist at JPMorgan, warned investors that Brazil ran the risk of “overheating” its economy.