The Latin-American community unites against Donald Trump

Justine Rodier, translated by Rodolphe Leclerc
2 Décembre 2015

In the United States, the Presidential candidate Donald Trump has been forced to answer the Latin-American community over the last few months. The latter accuses him of having made repeated racist comments, especially against Mexico. Because of his speech and some of his comments about Mexico, the American billionaire now faces a unified Latin-American opposition, who is dead set on speaking with a single voice.

Donald Trump is an American businessman, who became a billionaire thanks to the estate company of his father and who gradually acquired an international reputation, until he achieved his current worldwide celebrity. Also known as a TV host, he is involved in the politics of his country and is currently in the running to become the new President of the United States.

For a few months, this political figure has been strongly criticized after his comments about Mexico and its people. First, the politician declared that Mexicans damage the good health of the United States. Then, during a press conference, he revealed his aspiration to raise a wall between the two States.

According to Jesús Armando Campos Flores, a Mexican student and an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, “all of this is just an act to make people speak of him before his campaign. It’s such a stupid thing to focus on Mexico while the United States are made of minorities who came from the entire world.”

Donald Trump said that the fence would be entirely funded by Mexico. According to the politician, his project was directly supported and approved by the syndicate of the border patrol. For the latter, building this wall serves the common good, for the migrants who come to the United States would not be “good Mexicans” but only people “who have lots of problems and are bringing those problems with them, inside the United States.”

Unsurprisingly, those words angered the Mexicans. In addition, all of the Latin-American community mobilised to defend Mexico. Indeed, many demonstrations took place in several countries of South and Central America. Petitions also circulated to persuade the big Latin-American companies to cut off any relation with the billionaire.

Then, some companies decided to suspend their commercial relation with Donald Trump: for example, the National Broadcasting Company, a large TV and radio company.

The transnational firm Macy's, a network selling clothes online, also severed ties with the billionaire after his campaign speech. Beyond the commercial relations, a national association of golf players forbade Donald Trump from accessing its grounds.

An embarrassment for Trump

After Trump’s remarks, the Latin-American community expressed itself. Most notably, some famous singers mobilised.

The Puerto Rican signer Romeo Santos recently gave a concert in Brooklyn, in the United States. On stage, he struck up one of his recent creations, F**k Donald Trump. The song aims at criticizing the politician. Romeo Santos sings, among other insults, “you have a problem with Mexicans, but they build your f**king buildings.”

About this last sentence, Luis Liborio, a Mexican graduate and an Assistant Professor of International Relations – at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico – explains: “It would be interesting to analyse the level of truth in Trump’s speech, when he refers to migration and migrants, in order to understand to what extent he could carry out his policy. We mustn’t forget he keeps on using manpower from Latin America, as a businessman.”

The Latinos led other actions, especially during the Miss contests, like Miss America and Miss World, because Trump largely owns the company that organizes this beauty contest.

Miss Costa Rica chose to withdraw from the Miss Universe contest, following the “excessive anger” of Donald Trump, and in response to his xenophobia towards the Latino community.

The reigning Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, who has Colombian heritage, also criticized the famous billionaire during a quite symbolical attack against Trump, which united even more the Latin-American community.

Is nationalism building momentum in the United States?

Although all this support is coming from Latin populations, Donald Trump, for his part, is backed up by some Americans. “We cannot underestimate the level of influence that he can exert”, tells Jesús.

This rallying could indicate the expansion of national sentiment in the country, as well as a growing fear of foreigners. Jesús notices it solemnly: “it is a spread out idea that the Mexicans are going to invade the United States to seize control of the country. This must be taken very seriously”.

Luis also dreads the rise of nationalism and assures that “Trump stands for an historical minority of the United States. The one who "defends" the interest of the country through racism.”

“You have to understand that the United States are a relatively open country when everything goes well, but it closes when the conditions deteriorate”, adds Luis. Indeed, the global context cannot be forgotten.

After the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the international economic crisis of 2008, many Americans progressively shut themselves away from other countries, guided by a feeling of fear, refusing all arrivals from the outside world. This concern, if it keeps on building momentum, can invigorate nationalism and lead to the apparition of people such as Donald Trump on the political scene.

What is Donald Trump’s political future?

Donald Trump’s speech has been a subject of debate and urges the international society to take position on the question, but does Trump really have a political future? Does he have the necessary skills to get to the presidential elections as the leader of the Republican Party? On the face of it, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Indeed, Luis describes Trump’s speech: “In practice, he could not speak like this. He would have to consider the statistics: how many migrants are there in the United States and how much space do they take up? What do they provide to the economy? How many children do they have, and of what nationality?”

This last question is indeed a problem, for the migrant’s children who are born in the United States automatically get U.S. citizenship. Donald Trump recently expressed his wish to abolish this advantage and replace it with “jus sanguinis”, the right of blood, which would only give the citizenship to the children of at least one American parent.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s speech seems to be very largely centred on national security - his main concern - so that he doesn’t seem to provide enough details about the other aspects of his policy, however crucial they might be, especially at the international level. For instance, Luis notes that “the case of Syria is a worsening problem. It’s not enough to say that Bachar el Assad must be removed from power!”

To come back to the case of national security and migrants in the United States, Luis raises an important point: “his economic projects are not clear, he still hasn’t specified how he would replace the migrant’s manpower once he’ll have expelled them.”

An asset or a weight for the Republicans?

It would seem that, among the Republicans, Donald Trump is not supported by a convincing majority. “However, the whole Latin community stands firmly against him”, assures Luis. Those electors who turn their back on Trump are logically getting closer to the Democrats, especially Hillary Clinton, who would be a far more suitable and legitimate candidate, according to the Latino-American people.

“The Republican Party stands at crossroads”, tells Luis, before continuing: “Trump’s speech is too radical, which may very well result in defeat, but above all, division inside the Republican Party”. Donald Trump’s character could actually boost the ascent of the Democrats and their “almost certain victory”, according to Luis.

“During true, serious debates, Trump basically remains who he really is: a businessman with a strong, aggressive speech, but without founding principles and strategy. For this reason, I don’t think he will be the Republican candidate”, adds Luis.

Indeed, it is not sure that Trump will reach the Presidential elections, but this possibility is not to be taken lightly, and it is important to study carefully the question of nationalism in the United States.

Even if Trump’s ascent finally comes to an end, he has nevertheless brought the themes of migration, nationality and security to the forefront of the political scene. Because of this, every candidate to the Presidential elections, whether Republican or Democrat, has to take real, tangible positions on these very topics.

In spite of all the fuss about his personality, Donald Trump has remained unsettled by the different accusations, for now. He even received a more recent support: Sarah Palin, ex-Governor of Alaska, who has a Conservative inclination.

She actually supports him on the international scene, and even helps him to counter the accusations of the press. In return, the contender for the job of U.S. President showed her all his admiration and highlighted her talent.

“His very aggressive speech is supported by the most conservative fringe of the Republican Party, as Sarah Palin, but also by religious or anti-migrant groups” confirms Luis.

Donald Trump remains confidant in his arguments and the future of the policy he intends to pursue. Last month, he assured: “I am ahead in the polls, […], I think I will get the nomination.”