You might not know it but Trump is actually the President of a few Latin American countries.
He currently is the President of Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil and was very close to becoming the President of Colombia.
He also tried running for President in Costa Rica in 2018 and Chile in 2021.
Finally, it's even known that copycats of Trump's enemies, like Robert Mueller, also exist in Latin America.
Specifically in Guatemala as we'll get to soon.
In short, Trump is Tyler Durden.
Of course, you might only get that impression if you read mainstream media sources from the US, the UK, Canada, etc.
Sometimes the media sources might be Latin American though.
What I'm talking about is how quite commonly those same sources will have some headline saying that some politician or President in some random Latin American country is "the Trump" of whatever country down here.
It's an odd detail I find with media representation of politics down.
There are times where the similarities are more well explored like you can see here and there are other times where it feels like lazy journalism to get clicks with some of the examples we will look at.
But let's cover many of the examples already referenced.
There might be more that I missed as I simply typed into Google "the Trump of x country" and took whatever examples I could find.
If you have any other examples of anybody from Latin America who is described as "the Trump," then mention them in the comments I'll include them in this article.
After all, we have to get to the bottom of just how many Trumps exist in Latin America.
Let's get started!
The Trump of the Tropics: Brazil
The most obvious example of the "Latin American Trump" is Bolsonaro of Brazil.
You have countless sources online calling him such including this article here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Most often calling him "Trump of the Tropics."
And that was just from the first five pages of Google after typing in "Trump of the Tropics."
It also includes articles that are not from mainstream news websites but also even other institutions like John Hopkins University and something from Harvard having an article calling him "the Trump of the Tropics."
There were also some articles that I didn't include because it didn't have "Trump of the Tropics" of "Tropical Trump" in the headline (even though such phrases were used in the articles themselves).
I'm sure there are MANY more articles calling him that and I'm sure I could find plenty of news sources in Spanish or Portuguese calling him the "Trump of the Tropics" in those other languages.
Compared to any other political figure from Latin America, Bolsonaro by far wins the competition for being compared to Trump.
Let me just look at two articles to approach some of the reasoning online for why Bolsonaro both is and is not Trump.
First, we have one of the first articles I found in Google from The Guardian here.
First, it claims that Bolsonaro said mean things about women (plenty of politicans have said sexist things in the US, Brazil and all of Latin America and not just Trump).
Second, they provide a description of how his supporters call him "a legend" and are crazy for him like Trump supporters are crazy for Trump.
Third, he talks a good deal about law and order (which many Republican candidates in the US did also and not just Trump).
Fourth, he painted himself as anti-establishment in his last election win years ago.
Fifth, some of his language might be similar like how he dismisses "fake news" and has words for those he doesn't like. Trump might say "bad hombres" and Bolsonaro might say vagabundos (losers) and other insults.
Sixth, he doesn't like the Chinese government (though plenty of politicians on the left and right in the US are critical of China).
Seventh, he doesn't like some foreigners and wants them deported (like those in NGOs that discuss the Amazon Rainforest).
Eighth, they included some picture of a Bolsonaro supporter who had a Bolsonaro hat. I guess like Trump hats (though black and not red and plenty of campaigns of merchandise).
Ninth, Bolsonaro apparently called for a return to a military dictatorship (and Trump had some military parade which is what I'm guessing is the link here to Trump).
Tenth, Bolsonaro likes guns (plenty of politicians in the US like guns and not just Trump. It's even in our constitution).
In the points above, they seem to be the main things The Guardian brought up and, as you can see, my arguments italicized are points I'd bring up to dismiss them.
Not to dismiss them in terms of what Bolsonaro said or did in those descriptions was bad or good but only that, in my opinion, it doesn't really make him Trump.
Though some of the other points they brought up seemed fair.
One thing I would've added to that article -- and it was dated in 2018 to be fair -- is that Bolsonaro nowadays has been casting doubt regarding if the upcoming Brazilian election will be legitimate or not.
Trump obviously did much of the same.
So, if we were to ask if Bolsonaro is like Trump, that is at least a shared characteristic.
Even if you think the 2020 election was stolen and that the Brazilian one will have fraud, that'd still make him like Trump because, at least in your worldview, they are both victims of having the election stolen.
....In your worldview.
At any rate, we do have another article by a Brazilian that I should bring up that claims that Bolsonaro is not Trump by the New York Times as you can see here.
In fact, the article claims that Bolsonaro should be compared to what he considers other characters like Pinochet and Borat.
"Those who find similarities between President Jair Bolsonaro and President Trump don’t grasp the depth of the situation in Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro has not masked his affection for the military dictatorship. In fact, he considers Colonel Ustra, who ran a torture center in the ’70s, a “national hero.” Though media has given him the nickname “Trump of the Tropics,” Mr. Bolsonaro seems more like a cross between Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and Borat."
"Although our president doesn’t deserve the nickname “Trump of the Tropics” (not even that!), he was certainly greatly helped by the outcome of the American elections. If the United States elected an oligophrenic, why couldn’t Brazil?"
If you want, you can also check out the vast amount of other articles who discuss these comparisons that I linked above.
The point has been made though that, regardless of what you think about Bolsonaro or Trump, it's the greatest example we have of this trend of media back home making the comparison between Trump and some Latin American leader.
Now let's move on to some other examples.
The Other Trump of the Tropics: Costa Rica
For some reason, they decided to keep with the "trump of the tropics" theme instead of "Trump of Central America."
At any rate, we also have a "Trump of the Tropics" in Costa Rica according to the politics blog of Oxford University as you can see here.
It's a character I've never even heard of before known as Juan Diego Castro.
Apparently he is some populist candidate that ran for the presidency in Costa Rica in 2018 and had some support.
Here's a few quotes from that article to explain why they call him the "Trump of the Tropics:"
"Castro has been compared to Donald Trump for his populist rhetoric, the way he has used social media, especially Facebook, which is widely used among Costa Ricans, and also because he has been a constant presence on national television as high-profile lawyer."
".....Juan Diego Castro, who has managed to stand out from the rest of the candidates by fashioning himself as a brazen and outspoken outsider, even though he was a Minister from 1994-97."
"His campaign is based on a discourse of fighting corruption, attacking the other parties for their involvement in the “cementazo,” and his “mano dura” approach to crime. As a candidate, Castro has already shown some of the signs of a tyrant."
"....has avoided participating in televised debates ...."
"As Minister of Security, on December 7th, 1995, Castro lead more than 200 police officers to the gates of parlament to preassure lawmakers to aprove reforms of public security legislation."
" When asked about this episode today, Castro dismisses it as fake news and political play by his adversaries to make him look bad."
"Castro has already begun to question the legitimacy of the future election, calling Costa Ricans to fight what he already calls to be the biggest electoral fraud."
At any rate, if you read the comment section of that article, not everyone agrees with the comparison to Trump.
Some say that Castro is more to the left of Trump for example.
So on and so on.
Regardless of how legitimate the claim is, the blog did cite another source comparing him to Trump that you can read here.
Unlike Bolsonaro though, I couldn't find any other sources making the comparison.
Let's move on.
The Other Central American Trump: El Salvador
In El Salvador, you have a President known as Bukele that has also been called a "Trump" of Latin America.
Although, in this case, he isn't necessarily a "Trump" character but a "little Trump" character.
For, as you can see in this article here by left-leaning Vice, that's what they called him in the headline.
Then we have this article here with its headline: "The Donald Trump of Central America."
Of course, there have been other articles comparing Bukele to Trump without actually calling him Trump.
Like this article here by CNN that claims that both Bukele and Trump would take hydroxychloroquine for Covid.
Going through these articles though, what are the other reasons for why comparisons are made between these two?
For one, they often cite their love for using social media (especially when criticizing others publicly on the platform).
Like how you can see such a comparison in this article here.
More interesting though is the second article already cited that you can find again here.
They have their own reasons for the comparison. Here's some key quotes:
"Bukele, a former FMLN mayor, was expelled from the party in 2017 for ethics violations. He ran an insurgent presidential campaign with the conservative GANA party — which splintered from ARENA in 2010 — framing himself, savior-like, against a corrupt political class."
"Bukele has embraced an authoritarian persona, performatively barking orders on Twitter to his ministers, who promptly respond, “Right away, Mr. President.” His mass firings of public employees, harassment of journalists, and repressive security crackdown have drawn concerns from human rights advocates ...."
"Despite Bukele’s public anti-nepotism crusade, the new president was quick to install his own relatives in the administration. Bukele appointed his uncle as trade and investment secretary — who promptly proposed extending the work-day to ten hours — and his brother will lead the National Sports Institute, though he will not be receiving a salary. His sister-in-law and cousin are also serving in the new government."
The article goes on and on discussing other details of his administration.
It also mentions too that Bukele has cut diplomatic support for Venezuela in the OAS. I suppose that could somehow be similar to Trump in that Trump literally considered attacking Venezuela.
But, on the flip side, I wouldn't argue not having favorable diplomatic connections to Venezuela is necessarily a characteristic of Trump.
Previous administrations of the US, including Obama, were not overly friendly with Venezuela.
Plenty of politicians on both sides of the political aisle, including Marco Rubio of the GOP, have been critical of Venezuela.
So, in an article about how Bukele is like Trump, I'm not really following the connection made here as it relates to his foreign policy towards Venezuela and other countries the article mentions.
Finally, it did mention other details that you can read more on, such as those concerning his actions on crime in El Salvador.
You can read more on it in the article provided.
The Bolsonaro or Trump of Chile?
When it comes to Chile, it seems media sources are confused as to who their most hated man really is.
Is he secretly Trump or is he really Bolsonaro?
The man in question is the 2021 candidate for the Presidency of Chile: Kast.
First, we have this article here where the headline begins with the following: "Chile's Bolsonaro? Hard-Right Kast with Frank Talk, Crime Focus."
Though, in the first paragraph of the article, we go back to making the comparison to Trump.
"Chilean ultra-conservative Jose Antonio Kast, sometimes likened to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro or former U.S. President Donald Trump, has made a rapid surge in opinion polls and is now the front-runner in Sunday's presidential election."
In that article, it becomes clear -- based on their description of the man -- why they make the comparisons.
Including a desire to have a tough approach to crime, being unapologetic on his right-wing comments, saying he only "speaks the truth" or "tells it how it is" as us Americans would say, calls the left violent (like in the way of their metro protests in Santiago years ago), etc.
Perhaps more importantly, these two other details might explain at least some of the comparisons:
"Critics say his treatment of the political class - he has called Congress a "circus" - and proposals that have included building a ditch to curb illegal immigration are reminiscent of right-wing populist leaders like Bolsonaro and Trump."
Finally, we also have this article here that makes similar comparisons of Kast to Trump among similar arguments.
In the headline of that article (written in Spanish), he is called the "El Trump Chileno."
"Kast -que busca reducir el papel del Estado, afrontar con mano dura la migración irregular y prohibir el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo y el aborto- se opuso al cambio en el plebiscito y en ocasiones ha atacado a la convención."
In regards to the casual mention about banning abortion, I suppose that is relevant too given it was Trump who got 3 Supreme Court Justices nominated and that obviously had an impact on the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
Though, when it comes to comparisons on terms of the question of gay marriage, I'm not sure if the two here are that comparable.
Apparently Kast doesn't like gay marriage.
If we go to Trump's Wikipedia page here, you can see that he normally has been against gay marriage, even said he would get Supreme Court Justices to overrule it but then in his last few years had talking heads of his say that he supports it, that the issue of gay marriage is "settled," had a "Trump Pride" flag on his website and even had a "Pride Trump" coalition in 2020.
Still, many could argue that some of that is just pandering like having a "Trump pride" flag on his website.
Putting it all together based on the few articles I see here, I don't really see how the comparisons are that strong between Kast and Trump.
If Kast had won the Chilean election, perhaps we would've had a few more articles published making the comparison from left-leaning media sources bitching about the matter.
But a lot of the stuff mentioned when it comes to these comparisons -- like being anti-abortion, questionable on gay marriage and not liking immigrants -- are not very exclusively Trump.
On gay marriage anyway, you had plenty of left leaning individuals like Hillary Clinton who were not overly supportive of matters surrounding that like you can read about here.
When it comes to right-leaning candidates, you have plenty others who decades ago were against all three of those others and plenty who still are.
Though he's almost two decades away from last being President, George Bush was against all 3 issues.
And, if making a ditch against immigrants makes you "Trump," then what about a fence?
Among more modern Republicans in 2022, I'm sure we could find plenty who are against all 3 issues.
So it seems weird to me that they made this comparison to Trump.
And, to be fair to Kast, he did publicly distance himself from the comparisons made about him to Trump or Bolsonaro as you can read here.
There might be other reasons that the articles didn't give but are in the heads of the authors who wrote them.
We'll have to leave it at that for now.
The Trump of Mexico: AMLO
This comparison is weird also because, from actually living in Mexico for years now, I can recite to you all of the reasons for the comparisons made between these two characters without having to look up media sources that explain the reasoning.
Let me just write all the ones that come to mind (among others that might exist to be fair).
First, it is true that Trump and AMLO arguably had a better relationship than Biden and AMLO in some respects in my opinion and you can read about it here.
AMLO is often seen as a populist President of Mexico and many call him as such as you can see here.
Second, he also dislikes the media as you can see here where, in this example, he was exposed by a journalist for corruption and he begins talking shit about him on his morning show.
Carlos Loret de Mola incident
Third, when it comes to the Central Bank, I suppose one could see a similarity in these two videos here both Trump and AMLO had issues with their respective Central Banks.
Fourth, regarding electoral issues, Trump did question the legitimacy of the 2020 election and, as you can see here, many have questioned AMLO's commitment to the the local INE electoral institution in Mexico.
Also, as you can see here, AMLO did lose a previous federal election many years ago and claimed that he was the legitimate President of Mexico then and disputed the election result.
Though, in his defense, a lot of people know that there's tons of corruption among Mexican elections and I wrote briefly about it here also.
Fifth, both characters talked a lot about fighting corruption of the local elites even if they engaged in their own corruption as you can see here.
Sixth, he also worked with the US to discourage massive immigration from Central America and elsewhere but, as you can see here, that was under the pressure of the US and I'm not sure how strongly AMLO personally felt about the matter.
Even when it comes to Trump's comments on Mexico, AMLO was never really that tough or responsive to the things Trump said.
On the flip side, AMLO also is generally more to the left of Trump.
Finally, AMLO was never really the same as Trump when it comes to how they both used social media.
So there are some things about the two that seem similar and other things that seem different.
And, outside of what I can shed light on regarding what I have heard local Mexicans say instead of just random news sources, I can find you also news sources who make the comparisons.
As you can see here, AMLO is "Mexico's Donald Trump."
Here we have a headline saying that AMLO is "a lot like Trump."
Going back to the previous "Tropical Theme," we have this headline here: "‘Tropical Messiah’: A Trump-Style Politician Is Mexican Presidential Front Runner."
Finally, we have John Oliver asking the question: "Is Mexico Electing its Own Donald Trump?"
Funny enough, he also compares AMLO to Bernie Sanders in the same clip just about a minute or less before the Trump comparison.
Still, as we saw with the discussion about Kast in Chile, we know that bringing in other characters for comparisons isn't unusual.
While plenty of people who do compare AMLO to Trump, it actually seems more common for the comparison to be made by foreigners instead of Mexicans.
Some Mexicans I have heard contemplate the idea.
But, down here in Mexico, as I wrote about here, those who hate AMLO actually compare him more to leftist dictators like Maduro.
And, now that I think about it, I remember another article (written by an American) making similar comparisons of Trump to Chavez as you can see here.
Regardless of how justified those comparisons are to Venezuelan leaders, I just find it ironic because it was Trump who considered attacking Venezuela (though I don't necessarily disagree with the analysis).
So, if AMLO is also secretly Maduro, does that mean such a war would involve two Trumps going at it if Trump did invade?
The Ultimate War of the Americas: Trump vs. Trump
.....Or something like that!
At any rate, not everyone agrees with the "AMLO-Trump" comparisons as you can see in this article here with the following headline: "No, AMLO is not Mexico's Trump."
The reasoning from that article is as following:
First, it claims the 2006 election was absolutely rigged and so AMLO is not like Trump for claiming it was.
Which, outside of the article I cited, you can find a Wikipedia article here that gives lots of evidence of fraud in that election.
Though, if you happen to be a Trump supporter and believe the 2020 election was rigged, then this should actually make the comparison even stronger, no?
After all, they both had the election stolen by corrupt elites in your eyes!
At any rate, the article goes on with other reasons.
Second, the author dismisses the idea that AMLO's supporters see AMLO as a messiah or someone who can single handily save Mexico.
To be fair, you have had a lot of Western media outlets claim that.
Personally, I think some semblance of that argument is valid when making the comparison. Some of AMLO's supporters really are like that and can be dense.
At any rate, the article doesn't go into too much detail about why AMLO is not Trump and doesn't have many other arguments against the idea.
So it is what it is.
To some degree, like with the discussion about the election results in 2006, I agree with the author that the comparison is not entirely fair.
But, among other issues I brought up, I do see some similarities.
I don't think though it's 100% fair to make the comparison because I see both characters are distinct in their own way and more of a way from journalists to have catchy headlines that get clicks.
The Trump of Colombia
Finally, we have the latest Trump of Latin America to emerge on the scene: Rodolfo Hernández.
He was a Presidential candidate for Colombia that lost in the last election of 2022.
In this case, many of the articles I am finding that make this comparison are in Spanish versus the majority of articles I found for many of the other politicians being in English.
Though, to be fair, a lot of the Spanish language articles I am seeing are on foreign media websites like CNN, Infobae, etc (though some are from media outlets like El Pais).
Anyway, let's start with one by The New York Times where they call Rodolfo "Colombia's Trump" as you can see here.
"Rodolfo Hernández, a former mayor and wealthy businessman with a populist, anti-corruption platform whose outsider status, incendiary statements and single-issue approach to politics have earned him comparisons to Donald Trump."
"Mr. Hernández, who had gained limited attention in most of the country until just a few weeks ago, is a one-time mayor of the mid-sized city of Bucaramanga in the northern part of the country. He made his fortune in construction, building low-income housing in the 1990s."
"....recently told The Washington Post that he had a “messianic” effect on his supporters, who he compared to the “brainwashed” hijackers who destroyed the twin towers on 9/11."
"Mr. Hernández, with his fuzzy orange hair and businessman’s approach to politics, has also attracted voters who say they want someone with Trumpian ambition, and are not troubled if he is prone to tactlessness."
"Two of the country’s biggest issues are poverty and lack of opportunity, and Mr. Hernández appeals to people who say he can help them escape both."
Early on, he made a pledge not to take campaign money from private entities, and says he is funding his presidential bid himself."
Outside of these quotes from The New York Times, they also mentioned the following details:
- His supporters like to wear yellow campaign hats supposedly.
- His opposition candidate was Mr. Petro (a long time senator that is oddly described as an outsider candidate despite being a senator for a long ass time).
Based on that description, I can see the comparison sounding legit.
First, Trump also ran against a long time senator and politician named Biden in 2020 (though Petro never became VP beforehand).
I'm not really sure how important the yellow hats are. Do they have some cool slogan on them? Or is it just campaign merchandise that plenty of politicians sell? I think that detail might've been reaching by The New York Times.
Funds his own campaign? Well, Trump did get a shit ton of money from others to support his campaign but, as you can see here, did use a lot of his own money supposedly. So maybe that's similar.
Both claim to not like corruption? Check.
Both made money on property investments? Check.
Both claim to represent the needs of the forgotten and poor (despite what you think of Trump's policies, he at least claimed he would fight for them and discussed them. Check his inauguration speech in 2016)? Check.
Rodolfo says his supporters are crazy for him and Trump said he could shoot someone and not lose a vote? Check.
Though, there are a few things that differ between them.
For example, the New York Times gives the description of how this dude has "fuzzy orange hair."
Here's a video of him.
His hair looks different from Donald Trumps.
It looks kinda grey actually but, regardless of what color it is normally, he also doesn't have as much hair on his head as Trump.
.....As if that matters.
Also, Trump never was in a politician before he became President (though he often hung out with them). Rodolfo did do some time in office beforehand.
Still, I guess I kinda see the comparisons here but I'm not seeing it too strongly.
Part of me thinks that part of the reason for the comparison is simply because the dude is right-wing and so they want to paint him as a bad guy by doing a "death by comparison" through invoking Trump's name.
Otherwise, some of the details to make the comparison seem superficial.
His hair, that he is a businessman, makes odd statements that are or are not twisted by the media (depending on who you ask), etc.
At any rate, you'll find a lot more articles in Spanish that call him "the Colombian Trump" than in English based on what I am seeing.
A lot of their arguments are pretty similar.
So let's move on.
So Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?
Eminem - The Real Slim Shady
There are various thoughts that come to mind with this topic so let's get through it briefly.
First, the bottom line is to simply point out a tend you might have noticed over the last few years of so many sources online claiming that this politician somewhere in Latin America is "the Trump" of whatever area.
Second, as I said before, I think a lot of this is just an effort by media sources to both get more clicks with headlines like "the Trump of the Tropics" and also to do death by association.
After all, the audience reading most of these articles or watching John Oliver's show are going to be left leaning.
It's similar to when right-wing people in Mexico claim that AMLO is actually Maduro or Castro.
Like how I wrote here with right-leaning Latin Americans claiming that literally ANY left-leaning candidate will turn their respective country into "the next Venezuela."
They'll bring up x amount of similarities and are just trying to either scare people (like in the case of comparisons to Venezuela) and/or make you dislike the character they are discussing.
Regardless of what you think about Trump or AMLO and if these comparisons are accurate, that is what I think they are doing here.
Third, like I brought up before, you had that article that is actually claiming that Trump is the "caudillo" of Latin America.
"El Caudillo Yanqui"
To be fair, comparisons in reverse also happen where other authors beyond that one will instead that Trump "is like them" instead of "them being like him."
Plenty of people have brought up concerns online regarding how populist Trump is and how that resembles the populism of Latin America.
Similar claims have been made about Bernie Sanders.
Fourth, I don't think it's entirely weird to compare a right-leaning populist to a left-leaning one.
Like is it contradictory to compare Trump to Bernie or Trump to both Chavez and Bolsonaro?
For one, populism is populism.
Also, at least from what I have seen, both the far left and the far right have many more things in common than people realize but we'll leave it at that as it's another topic for another day and this article is already quite long.
Fifth, one thing I don't agree with is how some mainstream media outlet will claim that x candidate is like Trump only because they are both right wing.
I'm not talking about just trying to do "death by association" for the readers.
But where the author of whatever publication on CNN or wherever might genuinely believe that being against immigrants and abortion makes you like Trump and that their evidence for being Trump is basically nothing else.
That's just lazy.
Sixth, one thing that some mainstream writers from the US forget is that a lot of the "third world practices" that they see populists doing down here are tactics that non-populist, corrupt parties do down here also.
But yet they don't realize that or forget it and just claim that this makes a specific candidate another Trump when really everyone -- populist or not -- is doing that shit.
For example, you might hear someone compare AMLO to Trump because AMLO puts his face on EVERYTHING outside even when election rules might not permit doing so in certain areas.
But you see political propaganda that might not technically be allowed but is everywhere else by other political parties that are not populist like you can see here.
Los Supercívicos: Quita un anuncio
So sometimes the "first world writers" simply forget that or they don't realize that it's not really a "Trump quality" but a quality of politics down here in Latin America.
It's just the case that Trump -- at least with his personal checks of 1,200 -- resembled what was going on down here but local politicians doing the same down here doesn't necessarily make them Trump.
Finally, have there been any other characters from US politics that have found themselves mysteriously living in Latin America?
Where there is some Colombian dude named Iván Velásquez that is some big prosecutor that has taken down big names and was going after the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales.
Effectively, the articles claim that Trump withdrew the support necessary for Iván Velásquez as he was part of some international anti-corruption force and Morales helped Trump's efforts to reduce immigration from Central America to the US.
At any rate, I suppose it's ironic we found a Robert Mueller of Latin America given all of the Latin American Trumps that the media keeps finding.
Now can anyone help us find a Latin American Hillary Clinton and a Latin American Joe Biden?
Well, that's all for now.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.