Trump in Latin America
Letras Libres 229 (2020)
- Eurozine Review
‘Letras Libres’ says that a Trump victory would reinforce hostilities between the US and its southern neighbours. Why Mexico in particular must recognize that Trump has been bad for the country. With contributions from Alfredo Corchado, León Krauze, Dan Restrepo and more.
A Biden presidency, on the other hand, would reintroduce respect for regional distinctions and variations, and prioritize cooperation rather than interference. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law would be defended, and collective responsibility taken to face pandemics, climate change and other global challenges.
The Mexican connection
In Mexico, there is a strain of popular belief that the best outcome would be a win for Donald Trump. This is partly due to a long-standing conviction that Republican administrations favour Mexico more than Democratic ones. In the past, however, the Mexican government’s support for Republican candidates has sometimes had detrimental effects, writes diplomat Arturo Sarukhán.
While Trump would not lift ‘even his little finger to defend liberal democracy in Mexico’, Biden has a long history of fostering bilateral relations between the two countries. Although a Biden administration would require Mexico to challenge ‘the perception – whether valid or not – that the current and previous Mexican governments opted to support Trump’, there is no doubt that a Democratic victory would better favour a ‘synergetic relationship of mutual accountability’ between the two countries.
During his election campaign, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador rallied against Trump’s immigration policies, including the construction of a wall along the US border. Mexico, he insisted, ‘would no longer be treated as Trump’s piñata’. Now, writes the journalist Alfredo Corchado, AMLO is one of Trump’s closest allies. The threat of new tariffs and other ‘questionable punitive measures’ have led him to grant Trump ‘the wall he longed for’, and through use of force, Mexico has almost succeeded in stopping migrants from entering the US.
The consequences have been fatal. Violence at the border has prevailed, including an act of domestic terrorism by a white American in August 2019, directly targeting Mexican nationals. Irrespective of the election outcome, the process of healing the wounds dealt between the two countries must begin at the border.
Ever since his inauspicious early attempts to enter politics, Trump has bolstered his message of populist ethnonationalism with repeated diatribes against Mexico. Journalist and author León Krauze tracks Trump’s trajectory towards autocracy, through degrees of distancing from Republican values to ‘testing the strength of America’s democratic institutions’ and to policies towards refugees and immigrants ‘based on white supremacist values’.
This article is part of the 19/2020 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.
Published 21 October 2020
Original in English
First published by Eurozine
Contributed by Letras Libres © EurozinePDF/PRINT
Trump wasn’t an aberration: he only renewed the US nation’s bitter, uncivil war over whether a clear majority of its people want to forge a republic of equals. The challenge for Biden will be to assert his ‘American ideal’ over the competing vision that Trump has left behind.
The US is facing a twisted, belligerent reality: rioters brazenly revealed their identity in an unmasked raid on the Capitol; the ‘Save America’ rally undermined the constitutional process; and incitement came from the person at the very top of the institutions being debased. All while COVID-19 is on the rise as America’s deadliest threat.