US election seen from El Salvador: Will the "demonization" of migrants end?

US election seen from El Salvador: Will the "demonization" of migrants end?

Sergio Arauz is a political reporter for the newspaper El Faro, in El Salvador. Our conversation has been translated from Spanish and edited for length and clarity.

Alex Kliment: What are a few areas in which the US election could affect El Salvador?

SA: I think the presidential election in the US could have an important influence on Salvadoran politics because of the close relationship that the American embassy has with the administration of [Salvadoran president] Nayib Bukele.


If Donald Trump loses, I think that Bukele would be losing an important source of political support. I believe there have already been statements of concern from the Democratic side in the United States about the weakening of democracy that has occurred under the Bukele government.

There have been a number of negative actions — such as what happened in February when president Bukele burst into the Congress with a hundred heavily armed soldiers and police with the clear intention of taking over Congress. And not a single member of the US administration has criticized him. In fact, the [American] ambassador has referred to him as a friend and they've taken photos eating lobster together.

AK: Would you expect any changes in US migration policy if Biden wins?

SA: All the [Salvadoran] governments of the past 30 years, since the end of the civil war, have suffered the same problem: the huge number of Salvadorans who flee the country because of the violence, the threats, the poverty, or because they want to seek asylum. We have more than 3 million Salvadorans in the United States and the desire to go there has never ceased. During the Obama administration, El Salvador received the largest number of deportations ever in a four-year period, a historical record, and the people kept going. But now, with Trump you have the building of walls and the demonization of Latinos and migrants — a kind of public politics of racism that calls migrants rapists and criminals. And I think Trump has succeeded in scaring people into thinking twice about going.

The only thing that would change, depending on who wins the election, would be the ways in which my compatriots are able to make that journey. I don't think there would be a fundamental change in how the US views Latinos. There would simply be a change that might lower the temperature in the way that the word "migrant" has been demonized or the implications of being "Latino."

AK: How is the US role in the world seen by Salvadorans?

SA: The United States in my view has always been like a godfather. But there are many reasons in our history to not call the US a particularly kind godfather. We have a history marked by political help from Americans who were practically war criminals. The massacre of Mozote, and so on.

But more recently, the United States has tremendous influence over our government and over what Salvadorans think of our government. Polls show that Salvadorans really care about the relationship between their government and the United States. So it's important. If you like, the US is like the big strong friend of the poor kid who gets bullied in school.

AK: What are the main things on the minds of most Salvadorans today?

SA: We are living a triple crisis. An institutional crisis, a pandemic crisis, and the crisis which we are suffering as result of the pandemic which is poverty. In El Salvador wherever you go you will see the white flags flown on the homes of people in need of basic food. This is something we haven't seen in a long, long time. And the impact of this crisis of poverty is something that we are only just beginning to see clearly.

This interview is part of the GZERO project Global voices on the US election, which you can find in full here.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

More Show less

More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

More Show less

Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

More Show less

900 million: Egypt has impounded the Ever Given, the ship that recently blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week, until its owners pay some $900 million in compensation for losses and the cost of the rescue operation. The blockage of this major naval chokepoint caused severe disruption to the global maritime shipping industry.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal