Is boom, then slump, behind fiery Latin American protests?

Chile is one of the richest countries in the region. Haiti is the poorest. Ecuador has a centrist government. Bolivia’s is socialist.

Yet from Port-au-Prince to Santiago, furious demonstrators have been marching to demand fundamental change in a wave of often-violent protests.

What’s driving the protests thousands of miles apart? One important factor is that despite their differences, the countries hit by fiery protests this month saw often-dizzying commodity-driven growth in the first decade of this century, followed by a slump or stall as prices dropped for key exports.

Even Haiti saw billions in aid from oil-rich Venezuela flood in, then disappear.

That pattern of boom then slackening is dangerous for less-than-agile leaders. It expands the middle class that wants more from governments and is empowered to demand it.

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