The invasion of Capitol Hill instigated by former President Donald Trump from the farce of electoral fraud has been described by many journalists and political analysts as the biggest attack on democracy in the United States. The allegedly exceptional event in US history has been compared to something routine on the Latin American scene.
The invasion led former President George W. Bush to associate the resulting images of chaos with those typical of a “banana republic”. Such analogies were countered by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said: “This slander reveals a misunderstanding about the Banana Republics and democracy in the United States.”
While not agreeing on the appropriateness of comparing the episode to those that take place in Latin America, Bush and Pompeo used the term “Banana Republic” in their usual pejorative sense.
The term was coined by the American writer known under the pseudonym O. Henry in the short story The Admiral, at the beginning of the 20th century, to designate Anchuria, a fictional country inspired by Honduras, where the author fled after having been accused of embezzlement of bank funds. .
Since then, the term has reached a wider scope, beginning to refer to Latin American countries with unstable political institutions, dominated by corruption, violence and a situation of deep international economic dependence.
The “Banana Republic” alludes, in the speeches of Bush and Pompeo, to a place metaphorically distant from the United States, of institutional and moral decay, supposedly alien to American democracy, which projects itself into the world as solid. and exemplary.
In fact, the democracy of the United States has assumed the position of standard for other democracies on the continent, seen as fragile and uninstitutionalized. Derogations, like those of Cuba or Venezuela, are sanctioned by non-recognition, blockades, sanctions and the suspension of international institutions.
What the Bush and Pompeo narrative does, however, silence, is that the story of institutional instability, brutality, and coups in Latin America is not a story outside of that of the United States, it is not the history of the United States within, but it is a history central to its history.
Trump’s self-attack is familiar because it takes us back to the traditional US foreign policy of promoting anti-democratic, political and economic destabilization policies in Latin America. Examples abound throughout Latin American history of American military interventions to overthrow governments contrary to their economic and security interests, of military and economic assistance to perpetuate authoritarian regimes, and even of encouraging groups of people. opposition to tabling constitutionally elected governments.
If one takes into account this other history of the United States as an imperialist power in Latin America, the invasion of Capitol Hill is hardly surprising. On the other hand, it can be seen as the result of a boomerang effect, in the terms used by Aimé Césaire when referring to the Nazi experience. The West Indian poet asserts that before being victims of racism with the advent of the Nazifascist regimes, Europeans were accomplices because they tolerated, legitimized and absolved racist practices in colonial fields before they impacted them.
The question that remains is: to what extent was the United States not complicit in coups, in the destruction of ecosystems, in the production of inequalities in Latin America before the Trump coup? does affect them? In other words, it is as if the incitement to coup d’etat, a practice so intimate with U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, has inadvertently migrated into North American territory. Far from being an aberration or an anomaly in the history of the United States, both the promotion of coups and the racialization of the Latin America that supported them are firmly entrenched in the history of the country.
In the racist contours of the imagination of Trump and his supporters, democratic pacts should not extend to all of the Americas. The Trumpist narrative of making America great again was tantamount to contradicting it, defending a narrow, white, heteronormative America, trying to fight Latin America with all its might.
Although the former president was unable to carry out his main political project of building an “impenetrable physical” wall separating the borders of the United States and Mexico, the Americans were summoned and invested with authority by the former president to embody walls in their speeches. and daily practices.
Confrontation has become the keystone of political life, resulting in the plastering of existing trends of ideological polarization and institutional racism. Children born to immigrants and refugees were separated from their parents and placed in cages. Hateful presidential tweets against ethnic and racial minorities, now accused of blacks and Latin American immigrants with violent crimes in the United States, have now called on Mexico to pay for the border wall.
In Trump’s day, the limits and contradictions of democracy in the United States which were, in part, exported to their “backyards” throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, fueling the illusion of exceptionality of their democracy, gained visibility and drama, reaching their main house, Congress. The invasion of the Capitol was a reckless bet of white America against other Americas, African-American, Latin-American, Chicano, Indian, systematically targeted by the warlords of the south and north of the continent.
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