Trump's Sudden Interest In Latin America: A Play For Florida

Donald Trump walking along the Mexican-American border
Donald Trump walking along the Mexican-American border
Farid Kahhat


LIMA — Last August, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration published its Western Hemisphere Strategic Framework paper, which designated the Western Hemisphere — North and South America — as a "geo-political priority for the United States." National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien, who presented the document, insisted the region was incredibly important to the United States, and had been ignored for too long. Personally, I find this declaration puzzling.

First off, this sudden interest seems to come out of nowhere as the National Security Strategy, approved in 2017, paid no particular attention to the Western Hemisphere — and the Trump administration hasn't published any similar documents for other regions. Secondly, Trump has been president since January 2017, so he's responsible for the indifference to this region that's been exhibited ever since. For example, he's only traveled to a South American country once (Argentina in 2018), but only for a G-20 meeting, not for an event focused on the region. Thirdly, Trump has not been overly friendly to regional states (including those that consider him an ally against communism, like Bolsonaro's Brazil).

The list of hostile gestures Trump has displayed towards these countries is long.

The list of hostile gestures Trump has displayed towards these countries is long, but I'll name a few. He threatened Mexico with a border wall if they didn't stop the flow of migrants to the U.S. He withdrew aid to Central American countries for similar anti-immigration reasons. Then there was the 2017 suspension of the family reunification program for Cuban immigrants, the refusal of most Venezuelan asylum applications and the 2019 announcement of punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Argentina and Brazil. I could also talk about his efforts to cancel the DACA migration program (affecting some 8,000 young Peruvians), and so on and so forth.

On Trump's only visit to a South American country, Argentina, for the 2018 G-20 meeting — Photo: G20 Argentina/ZUMA

I'm not saying the document was created solely to impact the upcoming election, but I find it hard to believe that an apparent policy change toward the region only two months before the big vote is entirely coincidental. The document wasn't just presented in a swing state, Florida, but specifically at a gathering of Colombian and Venezuelan migrants in West Palm Beach (where there just happens to be a Trump Plaza block).

It's fortuitous that the document focuses on the nations that former National Security adviser John R. Bolton dubbed "the Troika of Tyranny"— Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. They are the birthplaces of many U.S. residents or citizens with two shared characteristics: Many of them live in Florida and have a general dislike of both the regimes running their "home" countries and of communism. This makes them likely to support coercive measures to topple them. These are communities where most members agree with the document's proposals (which I may consider in another column) toward the three leftist regimes.

And, judging by polls in Florida, capitalizing on this issue may prove to be a vote-winner for Trump.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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