Election 2020

Latin America Silently Hopes for Biden Win

Burned by 2016, leaders are cautious about vocally favoring Democrats.

An anti-Trump demonstrator cheers in Mexico
A demonstrator cheers as piñatas depicting U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and a U.S. border patrol agent (R) are burned during a protest in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on the border with the United States, on Oct. 31 . Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

Latin America has been one of the regions most neglected by the Trump administration—the president has made only a single visit there, to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. Trump’s rhetoric about Hispanic immigrants and the lack of dialogue characteristic of the administration have led to positive views of the United States falling.

But unlike in the past, when Latin American presidents were often vocal in their support for particular U.S. candidates, leaders are remaining silent. The presidents of Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia spoke out in favor of Hilary Clinton in the last election—but there’s been far less vocal support for Joe Biden this time from the leadership.

Mostly that’s because of the harsh lesson of 2016; the Electoral College, so different from any of the more direct—and more democratic—electoral systems in Latin America, can produce perverse results. That’s left leaders wary of polling that showed Biden ahead, a caution that seems to be borne out so far on Tuesday night. On top of that, nobody wants to risk dealing with an enraged Trump—even if only for the lame duck period until January. So, while citizens demonstrate in the streets against Trump, governments are remaining quiet.

Latin America has been one of the regions most neglected by the Trump administration—the president has made only a single visit there, to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. Trump’s rhetoric about Hispanic immigrants and the lack of dialogue characteristic of the administration have led to positive views of the United States falling.

But unlike in the past, when Latin American presidents were often vocal in their support for particular U.S. candidates, leaders are remaining silent. The presidents of Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia spoke out in favor of Hilary Clinton in the last election—but there’s been far less vocal support for Joe Biden this time from the leadership.

Mostly that’s because of the harsh lesson of 2016; the Electoral College, so different from any of the more direct—and more democratic—electoral systems in Latin America, can produce perverse results. That’s left leaders wary of polling that showed Biden ahead, a caution that seems to be borne out so far on Tuesday night. On top of that, nobody wants to risk dealing with an enraged Trump—even if only for the lame duck period until January. So, while citizens demonstrate in the streets against Trump, governments are remaining quiet.

Milagros Costabel is a visually impaired freelance writer and disability rights advocate living in Colonia, Uruguay.

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