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Trump Effect Crosses Equator as Argentina Discusses Border Wall

Trump Effect Crosses Equator as Argentina Discusses Border Wall

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and Bolivia's Evo Morales shake hands during the family photo of the 49th Summit of Presidents of the Mercosur in Luque, Paraguay, on December 21, 2015. (Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images)

By Monday, 13 February 2017 10:52 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Since January 20, every single day, all the media in the very faraway capital city of Buenos Aires delivers to its local audience the torrent of news coming from the White House. Like a real celebrity, President Trump is present everywhere. International news analysts, like me, have a lot of work and, as a joke, other journalists sometimes introduce us as the daily Trump news segment.

Following the same pattern of his campaign, the New York billionaire is taking real advantage of the new media trends and social networks. He understood, better than anybody else, that nowadays, in this field, the most important thing is to be present, to have an impact, no matter if it is positive or negative. The truth is under siege and ordinary people compose their perception by assembling little pieces coming from an incredibly large scope of different sources. Trump is a real master in doing that and in his search for the American people he is also a target for international audiences.

But Trump’s ideas and actions are not only affecting ordinary people through the media or social networks, but also the very political climate of many countries. In Argentina, during the last few days, a huge controversy related to its border has occupied the center of the scene. In some sense it’s a Southern Hemisphere mirror of what is happening between the U.S. and Mexico.

Without very reliable numbers, some studies estimate that there are almost two million Bolivians living in Argentina, half of them illegally, up to 43 million people. During the last 100 years, the southern most Latin American country was a magnet for people from all over the world, much like the U.S. and Canada in the north. At the beginning it was mainly Central and Southern Europeans, and in the last decades Bolivians, Paraguayans, Chileans, Uruguayans, and more recently Peruvians, Colombians, and Venezuelans.

With Bolivia, the gap between the two countries in terms of GDP per capita counts as the main reason for that massive exodus. Following the IMF numbers for the year 2015, Bolivia’s GDP per capita of $6,424 represents 28 percent of the one corresponding for Argentina, $22,459. Practically, it is the same ratio between Mexico ($18,370 GDP per capita, 2015) and the U.S. ($56,421).

In coincidence with Trump’s ideas, a lot of voices have risen in Argentina demanding for a more strict control of immigration. Alfredo Olmedo, a very exotic Congressman from the Province of Salta, has proposed to build a wall at the border. He has declared to the press that he agrees with everything in Trump’s vision. He wants a brick and cement wall, but if it is not feasible, he also thinks in a virtual barrier.

“I know this border very well, I like the Bolivians who are coming to work very much, but I want that the criminals stay at the other side” said this politician, who wants to be known as the Argentinian Trump, a politically incorrect position mainly coming from a province with high percentage of voters with Bolivian origins.

Previously, a few weeks ago, the Argentinian Minister of National Security, Patricia Bullrich, made a strong statement connecting illegal immigration with the growth of drug trafficking in the country, especially connected to the people who come from Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, the three South American nations where cocaine is produced. With that statement, the minister justified the new executive order signed by President Macri that shortens the time for expulsing foreigners with some criminal records. This Argentinian decision has generated a high level reaction from the Bolivian government.

President Evo Morales, the first citizen with native origins who has occupied that position in his country’s history, and a coca leaf producer before entering in politics, answered by saying that, “Argentina and Bolivia are indivisible members of the Greater Fatherland (Patria Grande) — in reference of Latin America — and nobody has to follow any new trend which is coming from the North,” in reference of the new U.S. approach in the Trump era. He also decided to send a high level delegation to Buenos Aires in order to talk and negotiate with their Argentinian counterparts.

As response, in Argentina the minister Bullrich denied those accusations, and in order to calm the situation, President Macri invited President Morales to attend together in April the final match of the local soccer tournament, a kind of southern Super Bowl. Polls show that a vast majority of the Argentine people are in favor of this new legislation.

This debate inside Argentina and between different countries in the region is showing us the deep effect that the new ideas and projects coming from the North are producing. It also serves again as proof of the high degree of hypocrisy of some people in Latin America who always denounce Trump’s anti-immigration decisions and statements on the one hand, and support similar or even tougher ones in their countries, on the other.

Finally, this idea of an Argentine-Bolivian wall, similar to one proposed between Mexico and the U.S., could reinvigorate the position of the people who believe that these kind of ideas are racist and discriminatory. These two huge barriers would divide the Americas in three parts: the two mainly European areas of the extreme North and South, while the biggest, central part would be populated mainly by Native Americans. Another unexpected consequence of a new era.

Luis Rosales was elected as the youngest state representative in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1989. In 2011 he was candidate for governor in Mendoza, representing Compromiso Federal, a union of three local and national conservative parties. He is the Latin American partner of Dick Morris. Together they have worked in more than a dozen presidential campaigns around the region. They have written the book “El Poder,” about their experiences in Latin America and other parts of the world. To read more of Luis Rosales' reports, Go Here Now.

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In Argentina, during the last few days, a huge controversy related to its border has occupied the center of the scene. In some sense it’s a Southern Hemisphere mirror of what is happening between the U.S. and Mexico.
president trump, equator, argentina, alfredo olmedo, evo morales
Monday, 13 February 2017 10:52 AM
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