Capitol Riot

For Many in South Florida, Capitol Riot Is a Dark Reminder of Latin America Turmoil

For many South Floridians who come from Latin America, the siege on the Capitol brought back dark reminders of the political upheavals often seen in their home countries.

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Jan. 6, 2021 was a day that will surely go down in American history.

The events were in stark contrast to the nation that is often referred to as the land of the free. What Americans saw as Capitol Hill was attacked was symbolic of the kind of political chaos that drives many people to the United States.

“We have sort of taken for granted that we are a democracy and we will be stable and have no threats,” said Florida International University professor Eduardo Gamarra. He specializes in Latin American politics and international relations.

“Most of us who teach comparative politics are customized to seeing these kind of incidences across the world, in Latin America more so,” he said.

He admits he was surprised to see what started as a debate over the president accepting or rejecting election results turn into an attack on Capitol Hill, forcing Congress to lockdown. It left many questioning how the attack on democracy could happen here.

Many South Floridians come from nations with political turmoil. Examples include two decades of political unrest in Venezuela. Additionally, two years ago in Bolivia, the president was ousted and accused of political fraud. And less than a year ago in El Salvador, when the president and his followers stormed the legislative palace.

What happened in our country this week reteaches a real-life lesson, Gamarra said.

“Democracies never consolidate, they are always a work in progress,” he said.

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