MIAMI – Three months after Joe Biden’s presidency, enthusiasm for his predecessor is still strong among Latino Republicans in Florida.
The South Florida-based Patriotas con Trump, or Patriots with Trump, has held several rallies outside of Mar-a-Lago, members send messages all day in their WhatsApp group, and a smaller group of 10 meet regularly to brainstorm ways to recruit more members on. – and help get Republicans elected in 2022. They are also looking forward to 2024.
“We are Republicans, but what we really like is what Trump is promoting,” said Laureano Chileuitt, the group̵
“That’s why we consider him our caudillo,” Chileuitt said, using the Spanish word for strong man. While the term has a negative connotation in the United States, it is not for Chilean. “It just means he is ‘the leader’ like Uribe,” he said, referring to Álvaro Uribe, the right-wing former president of Colombia. “We are anti-globalization and anti-communism.”
Such enthusiasm promotes the polarizing policies of Latin America, more opportunities in conservative Spanish-language media, the presence of the Trump family in Florida, and a state governor who remains a close ally of the former president.
Today, many in Miami still talk about Trump as often as they did when he was president. Like the Patriotas con Trump, many small grassroots groups that emerged during the election period are still active.
“Trump has not lost much support in this community,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a political scientist at Florida International University, after voting for a private client.
Trump and the Republicans achieved significant gains among these groups in the 2020 election. The biggest shift toward Republicans was among non-Cuban and non-Puerto Rican Latinos, and this is where much of the enthusiasm is concentrated now.
The heavy influence of Latin America
Venezuela’s ongoing crisis, Nicaragua’s human rights situation, Argentina’s return to left-wing populism and Peru’s run-off election with a socialist leader in the polls are affecting all Latinos here, sharpening their focus on Trump.
While few Latinos cite U.S. foreign policy when surveyed about preference choices, Gamarra finds that communities in Florida are influenced by politics in their home states.
Trump is considered by his international supporters, especially in Latin America, as an important ally in the anti-communist struggle. And in a state where Latinos have a strong connection to family and friends at home, the connection between Trump and supporters of the Latin American right is strengthened.
A clear example is Colombia’s political polarization ahead of their upcoming presidential election – scheduled for six months before the US midterm elections – and its impact on Colombian Americans in Florida. Amid the fragile and weak peace agreement between the government and members of the FARC, the country’s former Marxist rebel group, the internal conflict is growing. Leading the vote is the left-wing presidential candidate and former rebel, Gustavo Petro.
“It radicalizes the Colombian right wing. “Colombians believe the next president will be pro-Chavez, who fits right into the narrative here,” Gamarra said. “Because Colombians are facing this more directly than other groups, they are driving the conservative momentum in Miami right now.”
Dominicans, even though they are a small group in Florida, are also influenced by the politics of their home country. The country’s president recently announced plans to build a wall along the border with Haiti to help curb illegal immigration.
“There is a significant group of Dominicans who belong to Social Democratic parties at home, but who are influenced by the conservative Trump immigration policies,” Gamarra said.
While there is unity among the Latin American left, the right wing is less cohesive, but they see Trump as a partner in the fight against socialism. It compliments the narrative that Republicans pushed in 2020 and is likely to continue to hammer – that Democrats are turning too far to the left and wanting to ruin the United States.
Evangelical and conservative media amplify the movement
With social media and apps like WhatsApp and Telegram flowing back and forth between relatives in Latin America and Florida uninterrupted. They share news articles, videos and memes. And before the November election, they were a major source of disinformation, something that persists, perhaps with less intensity.
In addition to politics, there is also a religious component among some of those who support Trump. Evangelical church leaders play a significant role in conservatism in Latin America and here. This is evident in Facebook groups that support Trump, where messages in Spanish that strike a religious tone are common. In focus groups, evangelical Venezuelans say they believe Trump is “the chosen one” and “he was sent here – he is the direct voice of God,” Gamarra said.
At least one former top adviser to Trump has tried to strengthen the international right, including in Latin America. Steve Bannon has tried to put together a coalition of global like-minded politicians through his nationalist group, the Movement. Eduardo Bolsonaro, legislator son of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, joined Bannon’s group as its Latin American representative. During a 2020 dinner with populist leaders from Europe and Latin America, Eduardo Verástegui, an actor who served as an adviser to Trump’s White House, the Spanish Prosperity Initiative, expressed intentions to run for president of Mexico.
At the same time, the pool of conservative news broadcasts and voices has grown in recent years. The Epoch Times Media Group, a news organization started two decades ago by practitioners of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice pursued by the Chinese government, now has a digital place in Spanish. Ahead of the 2020 election, the newspaper took a Trump stance and at times pushed conspiracy theories.
El American, a conservative news site targeting Latinos, available in Spanish and English, has also come out recently. Its editorial staff mentions that the United States is “being broken down by moral relativism, postmodernism and Marxist ideas. We are in a cultural war and we know how this war could end. Many of us fled Marxism. We know that if America falls, there is nowhere else on earth for freedom. ”
In Florida, veteran journalist Marian de la Fuente, who spent years as a news anchor at Telemundo (which is part of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News), is now hosting a show about Miami’s America TeVé with a more conservative tone. The parent company of the network, America CV, is criticized by Democrats for its intention to buy Radio Caracol, an AM station. Democrats say Spanish-language media in Miami are dominated by Republicans, and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to reject the deal. They accuse America CV of wanting to turn the radio station into a right-wing outlet after a former mayor and liberal voice from the station was fired.
Despite the enthusiasm of Latino Republicans for the former president, some believe that while Trump will have a lasting impact on GOP policy and the culture he established, his influence will weaken over time.
“Because a lot of Trumpism is not so much about politics, and it is not deeply substantive, it will not have the same power that some assume it will,” the former rep said. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican in Florida.
“In the short term, this is definitely something that Republicans need to learn to deal with. Republicans will address some of these Trump themes and the support that still exists for him among his base,” Curbelo said, adding that for some Latinos it is also a rejection of the shift to the left, as they perceive from the Democratic Party.
Two years after Andreina Kissane co-founded the Venezuelan-American Republican Alliance, or VARA, the focus is still on Trump.
She said Biden, which offers Venezuelans temporary protected status, was only an attempt to attract Venezuelans. “Trump remains the only solution to Venezuela’s problems,” she said, adding that those who support Biden think only of “personal solutions without understanding the danger this poses.” She believes Biden is a “puppet on the agenda of global reset and new world order.”
Her group will meet next week for a panel discussion on the U.S. Constitution, religion and packaging of the U.S. Supreme Court, which she compared to what Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chávez did to the courts while he was in power.
“All we can do is remain firm in our convictions and our love for God to save our nations,” she said.
Chileuitt, with Patriotas con Trump, expands and creates an additional group of supporters from a retirement community. Patriotas con Trump WhatsApp chats have drawn members from as far afield as Latin America, Spain and Australia.
Referring to the Biden administration as “communists and anarchists,” Chileuitt said he and others, for security reasons, have erased Trump’s flags and signs. “But people are still worried about the future of this country.”
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