What’s Happening in the United States? Protests, Violence, and Politics

The streets of the United States are witnessing violence in a sensitive social, political, and economic climate following the killing of George Floyd by policeman Derek Chauvin

What is happening in the United States has many political, social, economic, and ideological facets. The election on November 3 is critical to know in which direction the world’s greatest power will move (EFE).

Spanish – One has to go back to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 to find a wave of vandalism and riots of this magnitude generated by anti-racism demonstrations in the United States. So far, the protests have left six people dead and 4,000 detained. Dozens of cities have enforced curfews and forced the deployment of the National Guard to control the violence.

The magnitude of the protests is such that New York spent the night and early morning between Monday and Tuesday under curfew, an unprecedented event for the Big Apple. This was decreed after an increase in punishable acts in the form of confrontations between looters and agents, the burning of police cars, the destruction and looting of shops in Soho, one of the most exclusive shopping areas in the “world capital.” The historic Macy’s in Herald Square, Microsoft on Fifth Avenue, and other neighborhoods in southern Manhattan that were vandalized.

Curfews had already been implemented in many major cities across the country, including Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, Portland, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

“These are not peaceful protests. This is domestic terrorism,” Donald Trump’s president said of the outbursts of violence. One of the main groups accused of causing and organizing the vandalism is the radical leftist organization Antifa, short for anti-fascist, which will be labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, President Trump said.

Vandalism, looting, and violence in the United States (EFE).

Antifa, a radical leftist organization that despises private property

This group, which calls itself anti-fascist and has its origins in Nazi Germany in 1932 and a militant movement in the 1980s in Britain, is known for its contempt for private property and for using Molotov cocktails in “its protests.” In the United States, historian Mark Bray, author of the book Antifa The Anti-Fascist Handbook, claims they became active in the late 1980s and links the movement to Anti-Racist Action (ARA).

Antifa has been growing steadily since Trump took office. Their public appearances have become more notorious and consistent. They also have a network to add followers through small meetings or even social networks. Their main targets are young people who are sympathetic to “anti-capitalist” ideas and the big outcasts of the groups we know today as progressives, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, told CNN.

Not everything is violent

While violent protests, vandalism, clashes, and conflicts have absorbed most of the media impact, there is a legitimate demonstration underlying this situation and also a just cause worth protesting about. And, in a way, it has achieved symbolic moments that generate optimism for the future.

There have been images of police showing their support for the protests, demonstrators advocating for the agents and security forces, people who have stopped the violence and made great efforts to prevent looting of businesses, citizens cleaning up the mess; and many other valuable deeds that have gone under the table. Unruliness, anarchy, and vandalism are all attempts to undermine a noble cause. It cannot be allowed.

Millions of voices around the world have peacefully risen to demand justice for George Floyd (EFE).

Geopolitical context

These demonstrations come in an unprecedented global situation with the coronavirus pandemic (SARS-CoV-2). But in the United States, it also comes in an election year and what would be a key election in geopolitical terms. The U.S. presidential election will determine what the U.S. foreign policy agenda will be in the coming years, left or right? Yes, it could be classified around these two political concepts, but, above all, freedom or the advance of authoritarianism – like the Chinese – in an era where the values of freedom are in the spotlight.

Trump represents the conservative pro-Western agenda, little tolerance for regimes that threaten freedom, and direct confrontation with communism and global socialism—not only countries but also institutions and organizations such as the UN and its arms such as the WHO—with conflicts that have intensified in recent weeks towards the regime in China. Moreover, the Trump administration has escalated the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.

Joe Biden represents the opposite on the Democratic side. A much more patronizing and left-wing agenda. Rapprochement to Cuba, less pressure on the regimes of Iran, China, and Venezuela—thus less confrontation with communism, terrorism, and drug trafficking—and also a progressive stance.

One country that will be watching what happens in the elections on November 3 will undoubtedly be China. The regime has engaged in a strong rhetorical and economic conflict with the United States since last year with the “economic war” and in 2020, with the handling of the pandemic. The accusations are coming from both sides. Trump has been close to nations such as Taiwan and Australia, which have also risen up against China and have shown their support for Hong Kong’s democracy movement following the passage of the new security law that could mean the end of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” model. The Chinese Communist Party is clearly not in favor of Trump’s re-election.

Forgotten health crisis

The debate over economic easing and revival versus maintaining quarantine health measures in the United States has simply been forgotten by the media. All as a result of the protests. The crowds have been steady and are not maintaining social distancing norms. This could mean a notable increase in positive cases of coronavirus without knowing how much longer these demonstrations will last, especially the most violent ones, supposedly organized by groups such as Antifa.

The health crisis in the United States seems to be taking a back seat (EFE).

We must remember that policeman Derek Chauvin, who put his knee for several minutes on George Floyd’s neck, causing his death—already verified by an official autopsy—was arrested last Friday on charges of manslaughter. We will have to wait to see how this case will end and whether a strong conviction will calm the demonstrations.

The economic impact

The freezing of economies during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a global economic recession. The United States is also suffering from a major unemployment problem. Last week, some 40 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

This was one of the strong points in Trump’s favor for his re-election before the pandemic: one of the best economies in recent decades, lowest unemployment in 50 years, stock markets at 3.6%, and one of the highest economic expansions in history.

But the crisis of the coronavirus and now the social unrest presents a new threat to the American president. Whether he likes it or not, in the November 3 election, the economic situation before the pandemic will not matter much, but the political handling of the current situation will. The U.S. entered recession in the first half of the year, and economists were nonetheless optimistic about a 6% recovery in the second half of 2020. However, conflicts and violent demonstrations do not benefit the economic recovery at all. On the contrary, it has a negative impact, and if it continues, things will be even worse.

Burning and destruction have also been a regular feature of the acts of vandalism in the United States (EFE).

Now, this is not necessarily a point that affects the president of the United States completely. The Morning Consult reported that 58% of Americans would be in favor of Trump’s call for the army to supplement the police force and control the riots. Some 30% would be against it. Electorally, it is a calculation that suits the Republicans.

Electoral race

The strings of politics are never held back, and even less so in an election year, especially if you are one of the contenders. The coronavirus was ideal for the Democratic side to hold Trump accountable, and something similar will happen with the violent demonstrations and acts of vandalism. In fact, according to The Washington Post, presidential candidate Joe Biden plans to sue Trump for his actions against the protesters. At the same time, he would use the current context to commit himself to “healing the racial wounds.”

This position would surely be supported by many in the mainstream media that have an anti-Trump editorial stance—CNN, New York Times, and WaPo—, but it will also be heavily criticized from partisan or Republican-affiliated media. In short, what is coming in the United States will be a heated debate between “excessive use of force (which the Democrats will wager)” or “applying the force of law and establishing order” (Republicans). It is not surprising, and in fact, it is quite revealing that regimes and governments in conflict with Trump have taken the opportunity to condemn “the Trump and U.S. repression of protesters.” Venezuela, Russia, China, and even Iran have all played that game.

This is a clear indication that what happens in the U.S. affects not only that country, but the entire regional and global context. That is why it is not surprising to see in countries in the region people supporting Trump or showing their discontent.

What is happening in the United States has many political, social, economic, and ideological aspects. The election on 3 November next is fundamental to know in which direction the world’s greatest power will move. The current situation presents health crises, social conflicts, and economic problems; all while waiting to see what will happen with Trump. Will he come out stronger or will he score points in the election race? Time will be an inexorable judge.

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