President Trump leaving the scene after talking in a conference about the role of mental health in combating violence, homelessness, and substance abuse, which took place in the White House in December 2019. Trump still has not accepted the victory of his opponent, Joe Biden, and alleges that the election was stolen from him. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP.
The world has good reason to breathe freely: Donald Trump has lost the election and will leave the White House in January. He has been a racist, cruel, antidemocratic, arrogant, and isolationist president. He disdained science and knowledge; he turned his incapacity for empathy into state practice and leveraged inhumane and degrading public policies
With him goes Stephen Miller, the designer of anti-immigration policies that have separated thousands of Central American kids from their parents and forced them into cages. Some day, the world will look in horror upon what they have committed.
Trump’s loss is also a loss for his imitators: antidemocratic populists who, like him, harness politics as a means of division through strategies of delegitimization, arrogance, and slander; using the spread of lies, intolerance, and exclusion to serve personal financial interests or the accumulation of power. Among those imitators in Latin America Brazil’s Bolsonaro and El Salvador’s Bukele stand out.
Trump abandoned the core ideas of the United States regarding Central America (democracy, human rights, liberties, security, rule of law, migration, and the fight against corruption ) and reduced them to migration and security. In exchange for following White House guidelines, which included receiving asylum seekers and blocking migrants, Alejandro Giammattei (and before him, Jimmy Morales), Nayib Bukele, and Juan Orlando Hernández navigated comfortably towards the dismantling of democratic institutions and accountability with the consent of the U.S. State Department and its representatives in our countries, especially the U.S. ambassador in San Salvador. Trump’s loss is also their loss.
Central America has regressed in alarming ways in terms of democratic institutionality and the fight against corruption. This will affect the region’s relationship with the new U.S. administration. According to Biden’s plan for Central America, corruption “is a cancer that is eating away at the countries of the Northern Triangle.” The plan promises $4 billion in aid for these three countries to invest in justice reforms, combating corruption, security, and development. “The fight against corruption will be the highest priority.” It is not a comforting message for governments plagued by corruption scandals that are at the precipice of an enormous economic crisis.
Today, Central America is not a priority in U.S. foreign policy. But the little attention the region does receive, heightened by the migration crisis, will be focused on these other components: democracy, the struggle against corruption, respect of freedoms, and the rule of law. Those that Trump eliminated from his agenda.
If Central Americans had decent, visionary governments committed to guaranteeing the welfare of their citizens, this agenda would not only be common, but also programmed in agreement with the international community. That’s something that is missing. Democracy and transparency, they have made clear to us, play against their interests. The capacity of the Biden administration to push for these norms, and of the Central American governments to resist them, will mark the basis of our relations in the upcoming years.
Biden still has to demonstrate his governing style, and for now we have no more than promises. The good news is not so much his victory as it is the loss of Donald J. Trump. He and his administration will not have four more years to continue doing harm. And this is a sufficient reason to breathe a sigh of relief.
*Translated Brianna Flinkingshelt
FI name: November 2020