I figured it was time to write a little bit about US politics (the big day is this coming Tuesday, after all), and especially this quite unprecedented 2016 election, and what the forecast is from here. I can only speak about Argentina specifically, but I’m sure that in other countries, things are pretty similar.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a panel put on by CLACSO (the Latin American Social Sciences Council) about the 2016 US presidential elections. I always love hearing about various aspects of the history and politics of the US from the perspectives of people here, and more often than not, I find myself agreeing with what they say (and, in this case, I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by their clear and accurate explanation of the extremely complex US electoral system). The speakers were all people who had a lot of familiarity with the US (you know how in the US, there’s “Latin American Studies”? Well, in Latin America, you have “United States Studies”), including the former ambassador to the US under the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. As I previously said, I found myself agreeing with basically everything that everyone had to say, including the polemical assertion that regardless of who wins (Trump or Clinton), things will be more or less the same for Latin America and Argentina.
“Son lo mismo” is a frase that gained notoriety here during the presidential election (and subsequent runoff) last year. It was spoken (and still firmly believed) by the far-left parties and their supporters, eternally pessimistic about the future of Argentina. Since they believed that current president Macri Gato and then-presidential candidate for the FPV (the political party of the kirchnerist movement) Daniel Scioli, “are the same,” they voted “en blanco” (blank). Since voting in Argentina is obligatory, voting “en blanco” is the only way to abstain without breaking the law. Long story short, Macri Gato ended up winning and many people blame the far-left’s campaigning for the vote “en blanco.”
However, it’s more than just the far-left here who believes that things for Latin America would be more or less the same under a Trump or a Clinton administration. Despite what the US media or Clinton supporters in the US would have you believe, Hillary Clinton is seen as being just as bad, and in some cases actually worse, than Donald Trump, among left-leaning and progressive people here. The US has a long history of intervening, and oftentimes with violent results, in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, and many people view Hillary Clinton as a continuation of that dark legacy. Now is not the time for a history lesson, but you don’t have to look too far into the past to see clear US support for neoliberal “regime change” in many countries (Brazil’s parliamentary coup this year, the 2009 coup in Honduras, the 2012 parliamentary coup in Paraguay, just to name a few recent examples. I won’t even get into Obama’s continuing designation of Venezuela as an “outstanding national security threat”). Donald Trump recently gave a speech where in which he decried US intervention in foreign countries (though clearly not for the same reasons as any left-wing person), and some progressive people here took that to mean that he is clearly the better candidate. Now, I don’t believe that Trump will end US intervention abroad (rather, I believe he’s making promises that he won’t keep, much like the rest of the promises he has made throughout his campaign), but it would behoove US liberals and Democrats to think a lot more about this issue and the lack of confidence that left-wing and progressive people worldwide have in the ostensibly left-wing and progressive political party in the United States.
For the people of the United States (those who live in the US), Hillary Clinton is somewhat better than Trump (she’s the “continuity” of the Obama administration, while Trump would force the people of the US to live under the type of government that the US State Department and the CIA have imposed on other countries since the time of the Cold War, i.e. violent, right-wing and authoritarian). But, honestly, for those who live in Latin America, US citizens or natives of other countries, US foreign policy will continue to be more or less the same as it has been for the last 50-something odd years.