Protests: Good or Bad?

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Demonstration in Buenos Aires Demonstration in Buenos Aires

How far would you go to be heard? If there is something bothering you or if you are upset about something, what would you do? Would you sit in silence, voice your opinion or gather your troops and let your voices be heard?

The volunteers and coordinators at Voluntario Global sat together and discussed what it meant to protest in our respective countries. We had representatives from United States, Denmark, Singapore, Israel, England and of course, Argentina. We talked about the issues our different countries faced and discussed the different ways these issues are dealt with. We discovered that every country handles issues differently but the one thing we all had in common, was our determination to make a change by letting our voices be heard. This can come in the form of a protest like we see here in Argentina, or it can be in the form of social media where we share posts and articles that represent what we believe in. And as we discussed, we couldn’t help but hear the people of Argentina protesting on the streets with their drums, trumpets, banners and flags.

“Protesting is an expression. It is more visible with more people. Protesting is natural. Think about it, we have been protesting since we were a child. When a baby is upset, he cries in protest.”, says Milena, Project Coordinator for Voluntario Global.

My question is, how useful are these protests? What is the reason behind these protests? There seems to be a protest on the streets almost every day in Buenos Aires. From young to old, Argentinians bust out in chants and dance their way down the streets waving their banners in protest. What do they protest about you may ask? Well, just about anything really. 

  • Workers rights
  • Disagreement with the new government
  • Unemployment
  • Hike in prices for transportation
  • Disapproval of Uber
  • Hike in prices for tuition fees in the University

The list goes on and on. When I think of a protest, I think police barricades, I think angry, violent people, I think uproar and chaos but the protests in Buenos Aires are far from what I expected. The protests here are most certainly non-violent. They are peaceful protests which can sometimes even be mistaken for a fiesta. All that ruckus and for what really? Are their needs being fulfilled? Are their expectations of a better life met? Are their voices even being heard?

“Being on the streets makes them feel like they’re doing something. They are happier because they have hope. When their voices are heard, they have hope. They stand up for their beliefs and they don’t let anyone take that away from them.”, says Valeria, Founder of Voluntario Global.

It was then that I realized, while it did matter that someone listened and made the necessary changes, it was more important that these people had an outlet to voice their opinions. Protests usually happen in capital cities because that is where they will be heard. You protest to show that you have a voice. You protest because there is disagreement. You protest because there is something not up to standard and you wish to see change. And sometimes, you protest because you want it to be known that everyone has different opinions. Not everyone’s point of view is the same and that it is okay.

In some countries, protests are banned. In my country for instance, peaceful protests are banned for fear of larger demonstrations in the future. There needs to be trust between civilians that we respect one another’s opinion and not fear that our differences will drive us apart. Protests can be healthy and there is importance in knowing that the individual has the power to make a change. The people in Argentina will wave their flags higher, beat their drums harder and sing even louder because this is what it takes to let their voices be heard. They want everybody to know that they will not stop until justice is served and change is made. 

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