President Donald Trump told Colombia’s most influential newspaper, El Tiempo, in an interview published Monday that former Vice President Joe Biden was a “diminished and very weak man surrounded by Marxists,” condemning him for his relationships with Latin American socialists.
Colombian-Americans are an increasingly powerful part of the nation’s Latino electorate, particularly in states with high Latino populations like Florida. The Obama era saw Colombia welcome a “peace deal” with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist organization, that then-President Juan Manuel Santos pushed through Congress unconstitutionally after the Colombian people voted against it. The deal granted uncontested congressional seats to the terrorist group, among other concessions. Since the 2016 peace deal, for which Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, several high-ranking FARC leaders have fled into the jungle and announced a new insurgency against rural civilians.
Trump particularly, and repeatedly, condemned Biden for complimenting Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro — responsible for a regime that regularly kills and tortures dissidents — on his voluminous hair.
“For 47 years, Biden had the chance to help Latin America and he didn’t not give it enough importance because he is a corrupt elitist,” Trump told the newspaper. He later continued, “The problem is that Joe Biden is a diminished and very weak man surrounded by Marxists who can control him because he has always been weak on socialism. Look at his record. It’s embarrassing what he has done.”
Trump condemned Biden for going along with former President Barack Obama’s policies on Cuba, which resulted in windfalls for the Castro regime from technically-legal American tourism and a related rise in state violence against dissidents.
Biden, he said, “gave millions to the Castro in exchange for nothing in a very bad deal with the communist dictatorship in Cuba that I terminated.”
“Biden even complimented Maduro and congratulated him on his hair when he was killing his own people,” Trump noted. “He is a very, very weak man and incredibly corrupt.”
Trump later again recalled the Maduro hair incident.
“Look at what he did in Venezuela,” he said of Biden. “He was very, very weak with [late dictator Hugo] Chávez and Maduro. He even congratulated him on his hair. He was pathetic.”
Biden met with Maduro during the inauguration of socialist Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was later impeached from office, in 2015. Biden reportedly told Maduro during that meeting, “if I had your hair, I would be president of the United States.” A month later, Maduro claimed that Biden was personally orchestrating a plot to kill him, citing no evidence.
Biden condemned Trump for stating that he would be open to meeting Maduro under the right conditions in June, despite having met Maduro himself already.
“Now that Colombia has a failed socialist state on its border, Biden is the last person that Colombians need in the White House because he has been very weak, inconsistent, and has erred throughout his career,” Trump asserted.
Trump also condemned Biden and the Obama administration for what he described as a cruel policy against illegal immigrants.
“Look at what he did to Hispanics in our country,” Trump said. “He raised their taxes, imprisoned millions with his terrible crime law, and built cages for immigrants. That is something the dishonest fake news doesn’t tell you. Biden built the cages, I built the strongest economy in history for Latinos.”
Trump has experienced significant increases in support from Hispanic voters, according to recent polls, compared to 2016. One poll found that in California, a longtime stronghold for Democrats, one poll found an eight-percent increase in Latino support for Trump between September and October. The Trump campaign has nurtured that increase in support through repeated attacks on Biden for his support from socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and, in Colombia, Gustavo Petro, who ran a failed hard-left presidential campaign against incumbent President Iván Duque in 2018. Trump again mentioned Petro’s support for Biden in the El Tiempo interview.
Biden defended himself from those attacks in responses to his own interview questions from the Colombian newspaper.
“I’m going to be clear: I am not a socialist,” Biden told the newspaper. “And a wide and united coalition of Americans has joined me and my vision for the future of this country, which includes independents, Republican ex-officials, and people appointed by Republican presidents.”
“Trump resorts to lies, disinformation, and invites foreign interference in our elections, all to distract from his failures as president,” Biden asserted.
Biden also called Trump’s Cuba policy “a cheap spectacle” and claimed it was a failure because the Castro family was still in power, not addressing directly the iconic images of Obama standing in front of art honoring communist mass murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Havana or doing the “wave” with Raúl Castro at a baseball game.
“Trump has weakened our democratic institutions, coddled dictators, abandoned or intimidated our democratic allies and, also, severely mistreated migrant populations in the United States,” Biden said.