The Brazilian newspaper O Globo noted on Friday that Joe Biden, who will presumably take the office of the U.S. presidency in January, has not made any calls to the heads of state of Latin America’s largest nations, skipping Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia and, instead, reaching out to the socialist leader of Argentina.
The November 2020 election represented a catastrophic decline in support for the Democrat Party from Latino voters, resulting in a resounding victory for President Donald Trump in regions with large Latino populations, such as Florida and southern Texas. The decline in support for the party from one of the nation’s largest growing demographics followed months of the Biden campaign sending unwelcoming signals to those of Hispanic or Latino heritage.
Reporters described Latino leftist sentiment towards Biden during the campaign as “resentment and fatigue.” The Florida Democratic Party internally accused Biden of “suppressing the Hispanic vote” with poor campaigning and negligence.
Last year, Biden lost his top Latina staffer in part because, according to a source speaking to Politico, the former vice president was “just hyper-focused on whites.”
Prior to the November election, during his first debate against Trump, Biden threatened to destroy the economy of Brazil, prompting an irate reaction from President Jair Bolsonaro.
Tensions between the American Hispanic community and the Biden team came to a head this week with an eruption of frustrated complaints from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus regarding the Biden team’s treatment of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham.
For now, Globo noted, Biden does not appear interested in using ties to heads of government in Latin America as a way to mend fences with American Hispanics. As of Friday, Biden has spoken to President Alberto Fernández of Argentina, a socialist who has led the country into one of its worst economic crises in history; center-right President Sebastián Piñera, under whose leadership leftist “anti-fascist” gangs have destroyed a significant portion of the capital, Santiago; and leftist President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, where Biden’s brother Frank has engaged in lucrative, and failed, business deals.
Biden has not attempted to make any calls to leftist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador; conservative Colombian President Iván Duque; or Bolsonaro, one of Trump’s most vocal allies around the world.
López Obrador and Bolsonaro have notably not accepted the legitimacy of Biden’s reported win in the 2020 election. While López Obrador is much more ideologically aligned with Biden than Bolsonaro, he mounted a historically unprecedented attempt to install himself as “legitimate” president of Mexico in 2006 after losing to Felipe Calderón, holding a parallel “inauguration ceremony” and installing a “cabinet.”
Thousands of people attended López Obrador’s “inauguration” that year, but it did not result in any actual power for the defeated candidate.
As president, López Obrador expressed sympathy for Trump’s allegations of fraud.
“In regards to the elections in the United States, we will wait for the legal issues to be resolved,” the Mexican president said shortly after the election in November. “We don’t want to be imprudent, we don’t want to act lightly and we want to be respectful … of foreign law.”
Unlike López Obrador, who has no known significant conflict with Biden, Bolsonaro has called Biden, among other things, a “coward” and threatened to use military force against the United States when during a debate that featured no segment on foreign policy, Biden bizarrely hinted at destroying the Brazilian economy.
Bolsonaro has openly wished for Trump’s reelection.
“It seems like the business over there is going to the courts, one state or another. Let’s wait a little bit,” Bolsonaro said after the election. “Hope is the last thing to die,” he added, in response to Trump’s chances.
Bolsonaro had not expressed any particular antipathy towards Biden prior to Biden’s decision to target his country.
“Brazil, the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped down. More carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that’s emitted in the United States,” Biden said during the debate. “Instead of doing something about that, I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop, stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t, then you’re going to have significant economic consequences.’”
Biden never clarified how he arrived at the $20 billion figure. He also did not mention that much of the campaign against Bolsonaro for allegedly not protecting the Amazon Rainforest is the product of celebrities and ill-informed world leaders, notably President Emmanuel Macron, spreading disinformation by blaming Bolsonaro for a fire that occurred at least 16 years ago. Bolsonaro became president in 2019.
Bolsonaro responded to the letter by dismissing his remarks as a “coward threat” and describing the $20 billion as a “bribe” that he would not accept, asserting, “OUR SOVEREIGNTY IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.”
“It is really difficult to understand such a disastrous and unnecessary declaration. What a shame, Mr. John [sic] Biden, what a shame!” Bolsonaro asserted.
In mid-November, following the election, Bolsonaro threatened a military attack on the Biden administration.
“There was recently a great candidate to head of state who said that if I don’t shut down the Amazon fires, he is going to put up commercial barriers,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “How are we going to face that? Diplomacy alone is not enough. When the saliva runs out, you need gunpowder; otherwise, it doesn’t work. We have the gunpower. They need to know we have it. That’s the world.”
Modern Brazil has never engaged in a conventional war with any other state, though it has allied itself in conflicts such as the two World Wars with the United States.
While Bolsonaro and López Obrador have not recognized Biden as president-elect, Duque, Colombia’s president, has, congratulating the president on November 7, leaving it unclear why Biden would not reach out:
Felicitamos a @JoeBiden, nuevo Presidente de EE.UU y @kamalaharris, primera mujer vicepresidenta de EE.UU. Les deseamos los mejores éxitos en su gestión. Trabajaremos juntos en fortalecer la agenda común en comercio, medioambiente, seguridad y lucha contra crimen trasnacional.
— Iván Duque 🇴 (@IvanDuque) November 7, 2020
“We will work together to strengthen the common agenda in commerce, the environment, security, and the struggle against transnational crime,” Duque wrote in his congratulations.
Biden notably received the endorsement of Duque’s opponent in the 2018 election, failed socialist candidate Gustavo Petro.
“Well, if I could vote, which I can’t since I’m not a citizen of the United States, but if I could vote in the interest of my Latin American people, I would vote for Biden without the least bit of doubt,” Petro told CNN en Español in August.
Petro’s endorsement featured prominently in Trump’s Spanish-language advertising, leading many Colombian Americans to vote for Trump. Members of the Democratic Center, Duque’s party, also joined Trump campaign events in Florida.
The Obama administration, which Biden served in, proved devastating for Colombia. Former President Barack Obama backed a “peace deal” with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist organization that granted the FARC uncontested seats in the Colombian Congress and largely absolved terrorists of their crimes in exchange for reintegrating peacefully into society. The deal resulted in a cocaine production boom in the country and a declaration of war against the country from some of the FARC’s senators, which fled and are believed to be hiding in Venezuela.
John Kerry, who was secretary of state at the time and was tapped to be one of Biden’s top environmental officials, openly considered removing the FARC from the United States’ list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.