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Security Brief: SOUTHCOM Week of November 15, 2021

Week of Monday, November 15, 2021 | Issue 50

Stacey Casas, Leidy Castellanos, and Raphael Martin, SOUTHCOM Team


Cuban citizens protesting[1]


Date: November 15, 2021

Location: Cuba

Parties involved: Cuban government; Cuban protestors; Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel; Cuban police

The event: The Cuban government acted in advance to thwart planned protests by activists calling for nationwide demonstrations for democracy and freedom of expression.[2] The planned protests were to build upon the July 2021 pro-democracy demonstrations in Cuba.[3] The homes of government critics were surrounded by uniformed police officers and State security agents, preventing activists from leaving their homes.[4]

The implications:

  • It is very likely that protests will continue in Cuba despite the government actively targeting many of the individuals planning the demonstrations, since many citizens live in extreme poverty and need healthcare.

  • With Cuba set to reopen its borders to tourists this week, mass demonstrations will likely deter people from visiting the country, as tourists will likely worry about being caught in the middle of government crackdowns and possible escalations in violence from both protestors and the police. The reduced number of tourists visiting the island is very likely to exacerbate the already precarious economic situation due to the impact of COVID-19, causing an increased loss of revenue in the Cuban economy.

  • Human rights violations are likely to intensify if protests increase and the government continues responding with force. This is likely to cause mass emigration towards other countries in Central America or the US. This will likely push the US to intervene, likely contributing to increased tensions between the two countries.

  • As protests re-emerge, instability in the country will likely increase the number of Cuban citizens migrating to other Central American countries. This situation will likely increase xenophobia against Cubans in these countries, as many neighboring countries are also experiencing economic troubles due to COVID-19.

Date: November 16, 2021

Location: Chile

Parties involved: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera; Chilean Senate; Chilean government; Renovación Nacional Political Party; Chilean opposition legislators

The event: On Tuesday, November 16, the Chilean Senate voted against removing President Sebastián Piñera from office over allegations of corruption in the sale of a mining company.[5] Since the Pandora Papers leak in October 2021, hundreds of current and former leaders around the world were listed as having created offshore bank accounts to hide wealth and to avoid paying taxes.[6] Since the leak, opposition leaders in Chile have been actively working to have President Piñera removed from office, and in November 2021, the lower house voted to impeach him.[7]

The implications:

  • The Senate’s decision will very likely generate more political unrest amongst protestors seeking justice in Chile. It is almost certain that many protesters will oppose this decision as they likely want to see action being taken against corruption. This will very likely fuel increased tensions in Chile.

  • The Chilean Senate's decision is likely indicative of a Latin American trend regarding the lack of accountability of its political figures. Political corruption throughout the region will likely continue, taking away monetary funds needed for social programs, such as education and healthcare.

  • It is very likely that after the results of the Chilean elections on November 21, 2021, polarization will increase significantly, leading to protests, political destabilization, and social unrest.

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[1]The Cuban flag” by Mauro_Orihuela, “July 11th First Rally against the Cuban government's genocidal actions this week” by Lezumbalaberenjena, by Raphael Martin via PowerPoint

[2] Cuba democracy protests thwarted after rallies banned and leaders arrested, The Guardian, November 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/16/cuba-democracy-protests-thwarted-after-rallies-banned-and-leaders-arrested

[3] ‘All eyes on Cuba’ : How Cuban Americans see U.S. role in Cuba’s struggle for democracy, PBS News Hour, November 2021, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/all-eyes-on-cuba-how-cuban-americans-see-u-s-role-in-cubas-struggle-for-democracy

[4] As Cuba Crushes Dissent, a Nationwide Protest Fizzles, The New York Times, November 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/15/world/americas/cuba-protests.html

[5] Chile’s Senate votes against impeaching Sebastian Pinera, Al Jazeera, November 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/17/chiles-senate-votes-against-impeaching-sebastian-pinera

[6] Offshore havens and hidden riches of world leaders and billionaires exposed in unprecedented leak, ICIJ, October 2021, https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/global-investigation-tax-havens-offshore/

[7] Chile’s lower house votes to impeach president over Pandora Papers allegations, The Washington Post, November 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/09/chile-impeach-president-sebastian-pinera/

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