Judging by past statements, South America’s socialist presidents look set to receive Donald Trump’s election with equanimity, arguing that power and politics in the United States is much deeper and more consolidated than any one government.
Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, said that since Obama’s presidency, he had been disappointed in his hopes for a more respectful US foreign policy.
“I had thought that between an Indian and a black man,” said Morales, “There would be an understanding, but it wasn’t to be. In the United States, the elected presidents don’t govern [the country]. The banks and the businessmen are the ones who govern.”
Similarly, the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, pointed out that America’s destabilization of leftist governments in the region has continued on across presidential administrations. “The [US] state apparatus,” he said, “is so large that undoubtedly the president doesn’t even know what the CIA is doing […] There is such a consolidated system in the United States of powerful groups – economic groups, industrial groups, fundamentalist religious groups, fundamentalist extreme-right groups – that it is system that surpasses the president and the government. So there are many things happening that I guarantee you Obama is not even aware of.”
That said, Correa then provocatively argued that a Trump presidency would the best result for the region. “In all seriousness, for Latin America a Trump presidency would be preferable. When did all of the progressive governments of Latin America arrive on the scene? Under the presidency of Bush or Obama? There was such a reaction against the fundamental politics of Bush that it set off a huge reaction in Latin America. Trump would generate the same thing; exacerbating the contradictions.
“But for the sake of the United States and the world,” added Correa, “and my personal appreciation of her, I would like Hillary to be elected.”
That personal appreciation may have played a part in Ecuador’s decision to cut off internet access to Julian Assange in their London Embassy. In taking the action, Ecuador’s government announced that it “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes.”
For his part, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, refused to comment on the US presidential candidates. “We do not intervene in the internal affairs of the USA,” said the president. Maduro has, however, previously called Donald Trump “a sick man full of hate” and praised the dignity of Latino people in the US in the face of the provocations of Trump and his supporters. The socialist president also described the US electoral system as “medieval” just a day before the election.
The region’s right-wing leaders predictably struck a different chord. Argentinian President Mauricio Macri praised Trump for his “conciliatory” tone and predicted “a less extreme transition than many expect.”
Mauricio Macri’s first dealings with Trump were in the 1980s, when the Macri family sold him a multi-million dollar Manhattan real-estate development. In those years, Bolivia’s current president was a landless worker growing coca in the Chapare.
Colombia’s conservative president, Juan Manuel Santos, said that he “looked forward to deepening the bilateral relationship” under the Trump administration. Brazilian President Michel Temer said that he “looks forward to congratulating” Trump.