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Opinion
The Editors

Fuel Subsidies Fan the Flames in Latin America

High energy prices have brought unrest across the continent. Blame misguided antipoverty measures.

Cash transfers would’ve helped.

Cash transfers would’ve helped.

Photographer: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

 

As turmoil rumbles across Latin America, energy prices have emerged as a potent flashpoint. Ask Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, whose government was almost toppled this month by protests against increases in the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.

By now, this script is both tragic and familiar. In recent years, similar stories have played out in Argentina, Mexico and, most visibly, Brazil, where a trucker strike over higher diesel prices in May 2018 gridlocked the economy and forced the government to cave to protesters’ demands.