Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Growing alliance between Republicans and Latin American right on full display at CPAC

By 37ci3 Feb22,2024

Presidents Nayib Bukele of El Salvador and Javier Miley of Argentina will take the stage this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the most prominent gatherings of conservatives, highlighting the growing alliance between right-leaning Latin American leaders and the Republican Party.

While some Republicans see the bond as a way to shore up votes in the November elections, Latin American leaders see it as a strategic way to strengthen ties with potential future US leaders and influence foreign policy.

“They’re trying to build a good relationship with someone who could be the next president,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University and a Democrat. “But it’s a double-edged sword because they can get attached to someone who is supposedly going to lose.”

“Why do Republicans care? These are very popular Latin American politicians today,” Gamarra said.

The idea of ​​a regional gathering of like-minded political leaders is not new. For decades, left-wing political parties and activists in Latin America have gathered at a conference known as the Foro de Sao Paulo. In the early 2000s, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Argentina had success with the pink wave, which saw the election of left-wing presidents.

Gamarra said that while Democrats never attended the Foro de Sao Paulo, many on the right accuse President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama of being “useful tools” of the Foro de Sao Paulo and negotiating with leftist governments like Cuba. Venezuela is part of the “naivety” of the Democrats.

With CPAC, “the right has always grown up in the context of what they say the left is doing,” Gamarra said.

CPAC has in recent years transformed from a Republican primary gathering to one dominated by former President Donald Trump and his sympathizers. It has expanded beyond the annual conference in the United States and since 2019 has held a spinoff in Brazil featuring US conservative leaders. He has also held conferences in Mexico, Israel, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

The alliance between Republicans and the Latin American right was strengthened by the close relationship between then-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Trump. Bolsonaro, who is well-liked among conservatives in the US, spoke at the 2023 CPAC after losing his bid for re-election.

Trump allies have worked to help Bolsonaro in his 2022 re-election bid. It exports some of Trump’s campaign strategiesincluding suggestions of voter fraud in the run-up to the election.

When Bolsonaro lost and his supporters stormed government buildings in protest—events compared by Trump supporters to the January 6, 2021 riot in the US Congress— Bolsonaro’s inner circle He spoke with current and former Trump advisers, including Steve Bannon, to develop a strategy. Congressman and former president’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago to discuss next steps.

Conservatives have now turned their attention to Bukele and Milei.

“Our movement, as you can see, is international: it’s amazing to have two presidents from Latin America,” said Mercedes Schlapp, a senior fellow at CPAC and a former adviser to the Trump administration. In an interview with Telemundo News last week. “It’s important to listen directly to these leaders because they can deliver an anti-communist, anti-leftist message because they know the danger and damage that communists are doing in their countries and in Latin America.”

Although Republicans have traditionally accused Democratic presidents and other political leaders of being communists and socialists, the claims A centerpiece of Trump’s 2020 campaign. Ads and events aimed at Hispanics and falsely linking Democrats to communism were particularly striking in Florida, where many Latino voters fleeing authoritarian left-wing governments now live.

“Reaching out to the Latino community is a priority. We know that Latinos are naturally conservative, they are about faith and family and country and they see the left destroying our country,” Schlapp told Telemundo News.

For Republicans, the presence of Bukele and Miley not only reinforces the anti-leftist message, but they also rely on both leaders’ large followings and appeals in the United States and internationally.

In an interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, Bukele highlighted the measures he has taken to make El Salvador safer and said that crime in major US cities has “by design” and the product of “enemies” in the US political system, while Miley praised Trump and called his campaigns to legalize abortion part of a “socialist agenda”.

Bukele, 42, won re-election this month by a landslide and has an approval rating of almost 90%. Once one of the most violent countries in the world, the country has become relatively safe under a big fight against gangs and detention of tens of thousands of people. Some of the tactics used by the Bukele government, including the state of emergency and the suspension of some fundamental rights. arresting innocent peoplethey took extensive criticism.

Bukele has also come under fire from critics who accuse him of anti-democratic tactics. But his governance model has gained more popularity amid rising gang and cartel violence in the region. and there it is attracted Support for Salvadorans in the United States and other Latins.

In the past, the Biden administration has criticized some of Bukele’s moves, such as removing constitutional term limits for the presidency. But more recently, the Biden administration has warmed to the Central American leader as he seeks ways to control migration through the US’s southern border. Brian Nichols, the State Department’s top official for Latin America, in October posted a picture shakes hands with Bukele during a trip to El Salvador on X, formerly known as Twitter. A few days later, Bukele announced that the government was charging travelers from dozens of countries a fee of $1,130 to connect through the country’s main airport.

Milei, a right-wing populist economist who was inaugurated in December, has toned down his rhetoric since the presidential campaign. He often used the chain to demonstrate how to reduce what he called a bloated state. After taking office, he tried to implement a “shock therapy” economic plan to stabilize Argentina’s economic crisis and soaring inflation.

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