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Peru

What Joe Biden's Arrival Means For Latin America

The new administration isn't likely to prioritize relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. But after the Trump era, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In Lima, Peru, on Dec. 29
In Lima, Peru, on Dec. 29
Farid Kahhat

-Analysis-

LIMA — The United States is facing its biggest recession since the Great Depression. As I write, the coronavirus pandemic is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day. In foreign policy, the priority for the incoming administration of President Joseph Biden will probably be to repair transatlantic ties in order to forge a united western front against communist China. Latin America, on the other hand, is unlikely to be much of a priority.

But just because the region isn't not among Biden's top foreign policy concerns doesn't mean that the decisions his administration makes in other areas are not in Latin America's best interest. There is, for example, the new president's determination to rejoin the Paris climate pact. And that has a direct impact on my city, Lima, one of the biggest metropolises in the world.

Latin America is unlikely to be much of a priority.

The Peruvian capital was built in a desert, and the mountain glaciers that supply it with water are melting due to climate change. It is suffering, in other words, from a global problem that cannot be resolved if the planet's second emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States, does not take part in international agreements such as this that are designed to confront it.

The point here is that even though the United States makes decisions on international policy issues without necessarily considering how these might affect Latin America, it doesn't mean that these decisions do not have important consequences for our region.

The same applies to U.S. migration policies. Decisions are made based on domestic politics and security considerations. But since the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States come from Latin America and the Caribbean, those decisions have substantive consequences for our region. The DACA (short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program benefits youngsters from more than 150 countries, two thirds of whom were born in Mexico.

For reasons like these, one could say that Democratic administrations were always a little better for our region than Republican administrations, bar in one area: international trade. Historically, the Democrats are the party most inclined toward protectionism. President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, needed Republican votes to ratify the NAFTA free-trade pact, as most Democrats voted against it. But this changed with Donald Trump, who cajoled and forced Canada and Mexico into revising the treaty's terms.

Brazil realized that "America First" referred only to the U.S., not the Americas.

The reason why regional leaders like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro sought to forge an alliance with the Trump administration was not so much because it served the interests of their particular countries, but was instead due to what they believed to be ideological and cultural affinities with the U.S. president.

As Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said, the two sides were united by devotion to the values of Western and Christian civilization, and a shared contempt for what they called "globalism." But Brazil soon realized that "America First" referred only to the United States, not the Americas, as Trump treated Bolsonaro worse than he had his predecessor, the conservative Michel Temer. The U.S. president approved tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil, with the pandemic in full swing, and banned entry into the United States of anyone who had been in Brazil in the previous fortnight.

Bolsonaro seemed to have misunderstand Trump, in other words. He didn't realize that the U.S. leader was motivated by ethnic nationalism and not by a set of diffuse "civilizational" claims. Trump's voting base consists of whites, not Hispanics. He cares little for other Christians of the Western world.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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