This past weekend, leaders of the world’s most advanced economic powers gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the 2018 G20 Summit, the first to be held in a Latin American country. As the summit commenced, thousands took to the streets to bring attention to a range of concerns including workers’ rights, treatment of activists and climate change. Members of over 70 different groups took part in the marches, joining forces to make their voices heard. Despite the wide array of concerns expressed, there seemed to be a common thread: the lack of access and communication between public and world leaders about these issues.
Despite the large number of security measures put in place by the Argentinian Government, protesters seemed undeterred. One of the demonstrators, Sebastian Dominguez of the Argentine Regional Workers’ Federation told Al Jazeera, “We will march up to the security fence so the functionaries who are inside a fence that surrounds them…can see there’s resistance from the people.” As Dominguez and others have said, the general public of Buenos Aires and other areas of Argentina is frustrated that leaders have consistently failed to address important issues that impact the area including poverty, hunger and climate change. Al Jazeera further reported that some protesters chanted, “Get out G20, get out Trump,” likely due to the Trump administration’s unpopular decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (which all of the other G20 nations have signed as reaffirmation of their commitment to making “greener” policies).
The protesters certainly have a good point; the issues which continue to plague Latin America and much of the rest of the world systematically go ignored in many ways. However, according to the Associated Press, climate change was one of the issues up for discussion at this year’s G20 Summit. Of the twenty nations in attendance, nineteen of them reaffirmed their position on climate change and their promise to implement policies to combat environmental threats, with no change of heart from the U.S. According to the Associated Press, Greenpeace has stated that “the necessity of the U.S. being a part of the effort to fight climate change cannot be denied, but this is a demonstration that the U.S. is still the odd one out.” Hopefully, the Trump administration will soon realize that climate change is indeed real and that all nations must work together to limit or reverse its effects.
During the protests, there were a handful of security incidents. The police of Buenos Aires detained four people, three of which were teenagers who brought items into the demonstrations which were prohibited. They also found explosive devices left in an abandoned vehicle in downtown Buenos Aires. It does not seem that there were any injuries or deaths during the weekend of protests despite the tension and unrest. Another issue which flared up in the midst of the demonstrations was the ruling of the Santiago Maldonado case on Thursday by Judge Gustavo Lleral, who officially closed the investigation. Santiago Maldonado was an Argentinian activist who disappeared during a protest in October of 2017. Three months after, his body was found at the bottom of the river – prompting an outburst of anger across the whole country.
Overall, it seems that the government of Argentina needs to pay more attention to what the Argentinian people want and need most desperately, as should the other leaders at the summit with their respective peoples. In the case of Argentina, the people feel that their leaders continue to look past what many would consider ‘real’ issues and in turn focus on different, less urgent economic concerns such as trade. In relation to climate change, I do not believe that the international community will be satisfied until President Trump signs the United States back onto the Paris Agreement and, in turn, acknowledges that climate change is a significant issue the entire international community should be facing together.
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