Election 2020

Relief Across Latin America at Trump’s Loss

The damage done to the U.S. reputation may take years to repair.

This article is part of Election 2020: America Votes, FP’s round-the-clock coverage of the U.S. election results as they come in, with short dispatches from correspondents and analysts around the world. The America Votes page is free for all readers.

A dummy depicting United States President Donald Trump in Colombia
A dummy depicting United States President Donald Trump making a Nazi salute is burned during a protest against him in Medellín, Colombia, on November 6. Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP via Getty Images

Latin American politicians and activists from Argentina to Mexico are celebrating U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Saturday. Argentine President Alberto Fernández was the first Latin American president to speak out, not only congratulating the president-elect but also praising the democracy of the American people. The Uruguayan president, Luis Lacalle Pou, also sent his congratulations and asked Biden to work with him for “the good of our people.”

The sense of relief in Latin American media is strong. Some are talking of the end of fascism, others of the end of one of the darkest periods in American history, and others say they hope that Biden’s victory will bring the desired understanding and respect for a region that has suffered from the neglect or malignity of the Trump administration over the past four years. Activists against racism and crimes against women in the region hailed the election of Kamala Harris, a Black and South Asian American woman, as U.S. vice president. Latin America has had several female leaders itself—but the presence of a woman next to, if not quite in, one of the most powerful jobs in the world is an inspiring sight.

But despite the sense of future unity and dialogue following the Democratic victory, the United States still must deal with a badly shattered image. Years of racist language and cruelty toward Hispanic immigrants are not easy to fix. For many Latin Americans, President Donald Trump’s baseless accusations of electoral fraud hit close to home; Latin American regimes have often disputed or even refused to accept election results. If Biden’s constitutional path to office remains unobstructed despite Trump’s ranting, that will, in itself, help prop up the image of the United States as still potentially a democratic leader.

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

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