Chile snores on U.S. election but casts wary eye on Trump

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By Eve Kucharski and Ian Hawley
(Additional reporting by Folu Ogundimu)

Latin America is closely watching the U.S. election.

“When the U.S. catches a cold the whole world catches a fever,” said Edward Murphy, an associate professor at Michigan State University.

This is especially true for Latin America because of economic and social ties between the U.S. and the Latin America region, said Murphy, who specializes in the study of Latin American culture and politics, especially Chile.

Unlike the lead up to the 2008 election and financial crisis, when Chile was more dependent economically on the United States, Chile’s economy today is far more independent and financially stable, Murphy said. Chile’s economy has grown since 2008 because of its relationship with China.

Latin American products like timber, copper, and oil are now more evenly traded between the US and Chinese market, Murphy said.

Chile’s growing economic independence from the US is partly responsible the media’s indifference to the election, he said.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, is viewed as a businesswoman of the 1990s and is commonly associated with Bill Clinton’s presidency, Murphy said. This association recalls memories of unfulfilled trade agreements. However, many Latin Americans view Clinton as someone they can work if she becomes president despite differing views of U.S. and global development policy.

Unlike Clinton, who is a known quantity, many Latin Americans see Trump as a “dangerous and unknown” candidate who “brings feelings of anger and hatred to Latin Americans,” Murphy said. Trump paints all Latin Americans with a broad stroke with his comments on immigration.

Trump’s statement about Mexican immigrants when he declared his candidacy was “very off-putting to the vast majority,” Murphy said.

Although the press in Chile is openly partisan, very few members of the Chilean press would defend Trump even if they want to see the U.S. follow more right-wing policies, Murphy said.

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