The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion These Global Opinions columns helped us make sense of the world in 2019

Mass protests shook large parts of the world this year, but many of the goals of the diverse popular movements that rose up remain out of reach. Pro-democracy activists — including in places such as Venezuela, Hong Kong and Sudan — have yet to fully rid their societies of the weight of authoritarianism. At the same time, corruption and inequality are eroding trust in some elected governments. Global warming and rapacious environmental practices are threatening communities and critical ecosystems like never before. Journalists still face persecution and intimidation; and sectarianism and nationalism continue to polarize countries and chip away at the legitimacy of democratic institutions.

This collection of Global Opinions columns helps explain the context and motivating factors behind many of these conflicts. We hope you find them useful, since many of these issues will continue to shape the world in 2020.

See more of Opinions’ Best of 2019 content

2019’s mass protests are missing the spectacular results of 2011 and 1989” by Jackson Diehl

“What’s distinctive about 2019 is the way governments — the democratic, the autocratic and those in between — have tried to subdue unrest with negotiations, concessions and promises of reform. It’s a sign their leaders learned something from Tiananmen Square and Assad; they don’t want to become synonyms for butchery.”

The more we learn about Brexit, the more crooked it looks” by Anne Applebaum

“The Brexit story suddenly looks even more familiar: One of its protagonists turns out to have much deeper Russian business connections than previously suspected. He also tried to conceal them.”

This is Venezuela’s struggle. Trump should act with caution.” by Frida Ghitis

“The Venezuelan people deserve international backing and they are receiving it more abundantly than at any time since chavismo came to power two decades ago. But in order for the United States to support the people in their quest to remove Maduro’s boot from their neck, the Trump administration needs to act with caution.”

In Hong Kong, what began as peaceful protests has become a de facto war about the future of democracy. Who are the Hong Kongers keeping the movement alive? (Video: Parjanya Christian Holtz/The Washington Post)

China can silence me. But it can’t silence Hong Kong’s movement." by Joshua Wong

“When I first decided to run for the district council position, I understood that Beijing might decide to thwart my candidacy. The decision, and the suspicious way it was made, exposes to the world just how much Hong Kong is already under Beijing’s authoritarian grip.”

Rudy Giuliani accused me of exposing Paul Manafort’s Ukraine deals to help U.S. Democrats. That’s a lie.” by Serhiy Leshchenko

“Here’s the truth: The administrative court — which has long had a reputation as the most corrupt in Ukraine — ruled in December 2018 that I had acted illegally by disclosing the payments to Manafort. We appealed, and the verdict was suspended. And in the summer of this year, we won the appeal and the court’s decision was completely annulled. The court concluded that all the charges against me were unfounded, and even obliged my opponents to reimburse me for $100 in legal costs.”

Jamal Khashoggi: A missing voice, a growing chorus

“One year ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thought he could end a debate with a bone saw. He did succeed in ending a life and silencing a voice — that of our brave and distinguished colleague, Jamal Khashoggi. But as you will see here, the debate lives on, and the quests that animated Khashoggi’s life — for freedom, democracy, tolerance and greater understanding across cultures — cannot be so easily defeated.”

India was a miracle democracy. But it’s time to downgrade its credentials.” by Ramachandra Guha

“Given the lack of any sort of credible opposition to the [Bharatiya Janata Party], the atmosphere of fear among religious minorities and the attacks on a free press, we are now a 40-60 democracy, and — if the recent abuse of state power in Kashmir is any indication — well on the way to becoming 30-70.”

In China, every day is Kristallnacht” by Fred Hiatt

“In a cultural genocide with few parallels since World War II, thousands of Muslim religious sites have been destroyed. At least 1 million Muslims have been confined to camps, where aging imams are shackled and young men are forced to renounce their faith."

Sudan is tasting freedom for the first time. We can’t turn back.” by Reem Abbas

“I’m still not used to freedom of expression, but I’m doing my best to catch up. A few days ago, when I wrote an article on the protests, all my sources allowed me to use their names and take their pictures. I’ve been a journalist for eight years, and this is the first time I’ve seen Sudanese willing to do this.”

Indigenous people are being killed for protecting their land. But we will not be silent.” by Vicky Tauli-Corpuz

“In 2018, at least three people were killed on average every week trying to protect their lands and livelihoods from destructive industries such as mining, logging and agribusiness. Some were shot by the police, and others were gunned down by hired assassins or private security forces.”

I am a survivor of Islamic State violence. Don’t forget us.” by Nadia Murad

“The White House announced that the Islamic State’s ‘territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria.’ But Yazidis and other survivors know that even though the Islamic State has been weakened, the gaping wounds it left behind still exist.”

We’re thinking about the Amazon fires all wrong. These maps show why.” by Sergio Peçanha and Tim Wallace

“The heart of the Amazon is not actually on fire. Instead, most of the fires are burning at the fringes of the forest. That’s where the real story, and the real solution to these fires, lie.”

Read more from Global Opinions in 2019:

China tried to erase the memory of Tiananmen Square. But its legacy lives on.

Iran has reinvented the hostage crisis, 40 years later

The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago. Its shadow looms large.

2019: The year of the global street protest

Read more 2019 in review content:

Our favorite letters to the editor of 2019

Our favorite Washington Post op-eds of 2019

2019 in editorial cartoons from all over the country

The best Ann Telnaes cartoons of 2019

The best Tom Toles cartoons of 2019

11 video op-eds to make you think, and well, maybe cry

19 good things that happened in 2019