With the January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump, much of the world is holding its breath. Trump represents perhaps the first president in American history who is truly not beholden to typical interests groups, party structures, or governmental institutions. He won the presidency almost in spite of the Republican Party, not because of it.
Thus, when analyzing the implications of Trump for Latin America, or the world in general, all bets are off. What the Republicans have advocated in the past is not necessarily indicative of Trump’s line of thinking.
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Take Cuba, for example. Following Obama’s two year thaw in US Cuba relations, Trump has stepped in and claimed (assuming the mantle of world class negotiator) that Obama gave away too much. He has vowed to take a hard line against the Raul Castro regime. It is likely that this will entail policy changes regarding the trade embargo, diplomatic relations, and tourism.
Free trade was an issue that divided both parties in 2016. Trump took the most hard line anti-trade line in modern history, promising to revisit and renegotiate the trade pacts that a generation of presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have enacted. First up, he will meet with Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto to renegotiate NAFTA, in a move that is certain to have earth-shattering reverberations for the Mexican economy. Trump’s potentially protectionist measures have also concerned major trading partners like Argentina’s Mauricio Macri.
Finally, immigration and border security are certain to loom large in US Latin American relations.
Trump has promised to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it, although such a move would obviously have to be through indirect means.
He has also pledged to immediately begin to deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. With regard to mass deportations of the status of the so-called “Dreamers”…it really remains to be seen the degree to which Trump’s hard line rhetoric will correspond to his official policies.
With Trump only one thing is certain: The Bush/Clinton/Obama world order is going to be thrown out the window. For better or worse.