By becoming the leader of the most powerful country in the world, former US President Donald Trump has empowered and legitimized authorities around the world. He did so through the media use of lies and autocratic practices, whose past is clearly different, that of democracies in crisis in the years between the wars of the last century.
But now that Trump is gone, what will happen to those who followed his recipes for violence, outright lies, racism, authoritarianism and militarization of politics to the letter and legitimized themselves to through it?
In Latin America, supporters of a purely Trumpist policy have no intention of changing course. And they are even more explicit in their defense of autocratic models through the big lie that they are democratic.
The most recent case is that of Keiko Fujimori, in Peru, who in a Trumpist pocket and key combines his idea of establishing “democracy” in his country with preaching against a non-existent enemy: “gender ideology”.
Like Trump and Bolsonaro, Fujimori presents himself as the candidate of the iron fist and the fight against corruption, despite his process of corruption and a clear tendency to nepotism.
Like Fujimori, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele shares an autocratic impatience with how democracy works, but also disguises it in democratic form.
Additionally, Bukele preceded Trump in an attempt to occupy Congress. In February 2020, the Salvadoran caudillo ordered military and police troops to occupy the building and when he entered, as Trump supporters would later do, he prayed seated in the chair normally occupied by the speaker of parliament. .
Before leaving the building, Bukele gave lawmakers a week to approve his proposals. It is clear that the President of El Salvador has followed and often anticipated Trump’s recipe. And like him, he has used and abused social media to announce government decisions on Twitter and even to communicate with members of his cabinet.
He also said on Twitter: “I am officially the coolest president in the world.” And on another occasion, in a tweet posted at 2:46 am, he “ordered” the citizens to fall asleep. Rather than being idiosyncratic, this new use of the media environment followed the Trumpist model and presented the country with alternate realities that were combined with planned attacks on the legitimacy of the free press.
Likewise, Bolsonaro, in Brazil, coughed near reporters when he tested positive for Covid-19, and he also used and continues to use violent, homophobic and misogynistic slurs when addressing reporters. or referring to independent media.
Two reports from press freedom organizations concluded that 2020 was the most dangerous year for professional journalism in recent Brazilian history and that the Bolsonaro government was the main source of the attacks.
The use of violence against dissidents comes against the background of Bolsonaro’s reactionary calls to try to mold the Brazilian people according to certain traditional religious precepts, as well as to arm the population to avoid the imaginary danger of a left-wing dictatorship. . While Bolsonaro himself leads Brazil down a dictatorial path.
After invading Congress, Bukele justified his actions by saying that he was not a dictator. Like Trump, Bukele equated freedom and sanctity with his ability to attack institutions at the behest of the people. He even identified his attacks on democracy and the independent press with his defense of “freedom of speech” and democracy.
In Peru, Keiko Fujimori explained that “a hard hand means restoring the principle of authority to bring order. It means getting things done. In no case authoritarianism ”. His personal and family history shows, however, that it is difficult to adapt his ideas of democracy and repression to the democratic tradition.
This type of distortion of authoritarianism, also presented as an advocate of democracy, has a sad, long-standing history that ranges from Hitler, Franco and Pinochet to Bolsonaro and Trump. In 2019, Bolsonaro celebrated the 1964 coup that led to the deadliest military dictatorship in Brazilian history.
He falsely claimed that the dictatorship had established democracy in Brazil, arguing in particular that it was not actually a dictatorship. This attempt was no different from the classic fascist lie that fascist dictatorships were genuine forms of democracy.
Trump’s dictatorial plan to reverse presidential election results through violence by armed citizens has also been touted as a defense of democracy.
In the context of the collapse of traditional Latin American elites, these new leaders are turning elections into plebiscites based on lies about how democracy works. As the philosopher Hannah Arendt argued, politics and lies always go hand in hand, but in fascism lies increase both quantitatively (fascists shamelessly lie) and qualitatively (fascists believe their lies and try to transform reality to resemble their lies).
In this sense, leaders like Bolsonaro, Bukele and Fujimori assume the post of Trumpists and turn their lies into a grave danger to democracy.
www.latinoamerica21.com, a pluralist media engaged in the dissemination of critical and truthful information about Latin America.
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