Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was the longest-serving leader in Latin America, hastily resigned on Sunday. His departure came after weeks of increasingly violent street protests, and after he lost the backing of Bolivia's military.
But this was not a coup, as Morales claimed.
In fact, if there was any irregular seizure of power, it was from Morales himself, who broke Bolivia's constitutionally imposed two-term limit in 2016 after a loyalist court found a workaround. And if that wasn't enough, his recent re-election for a fourth term was widely considered fraudulent, which sent outraged Bolivians into the streets of La Paz and beyond.
Citizens had other reasons to protest. Despite his historic status as his country's first democratically elected indigenous leader — and Bolivia's early economic success during his tenure — more recently the Andean nation joined much of Latin America in experiencing economic stagnation, growing inequality and allegations of corruption, among other issues roiling the populace.
All of this led some Bolivians to embark on their own version of an increasingly virulent, and occasionally violent, growing global protest movement that's been particularly acute in Latin America, where the commodities-fueled boom that lifted many out of poverty in the region has stalled just as government corruption, incompetence and distance from its citizens has accelerated.
But it's not just Latin America. The protest phenomenon crosses countries and continents, as seen in Hong Kong, Spain and particularly in the Mideast, where Lebanon's leader, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was the first to resign because of unquelled unrest. There likely will be more changes in national capitals as beleaguered leaders face intractable challenges. In Iraq, for instance, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has offered to resign once a successor is chosen, lest his departure exacerbate the country's chaos.
A weakening global economy, the rise of strongmen in Moscow, Beijing and beyond, and an inward-looking Washington offer little hope of a coordinated, effective response to the protests.
So the turmoil is likely to continue, and that's just one more destabilizing dynamic in an increasingly unstable world.