BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA, August 20, 2016 – Anyone visiting Colombia from the United States this year is soon asked about Donald Trump. The Trump phenomenon dominates the international news cycle, and everyone in Colombia is intrigued with Trump. Even blue collar workers seem fascinated by the candidacy of Trump.
Unlike in the US, in Colombia, anyone with a TV set is aware of international events. They are especially aware of those from the Northern Titan, as the US has been known since the mid XIX century. Simón Bolivar in the first decades of the XIX century explained the need for the creation of the “Gran Colombia”, the political union of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, as a counterpart to the upcoming world power that was the US. To most Colombians the US is a country to be admired and most Americans are treated with deference.
This is why to many Colombians, the surge of Trump to the candidacy of a major party has been so unexpected. While Colombia is a capitalist, catholic and conservative/traditional country in the full sense of the word, billionaire, businessmen presidential candidates are unknown. There is more chance that a poet could become a presidential candidate than someone from the business sector in Colombia.
Colombians expect their presidential candidates to have shown statesmanship, courage, public management or other similar qualities that qualify them to the presidency. A billionaire host of a reality show would never be accepted as a presidential candidate to Colombian voters.
The question Colombian’s most ask is why so many Americans would even think of Trump as a viable candidate. It honestly is confusing to Colombians, and is something they cannot understand.
The American voting public is perceived in Colombia as sophisticated and savvy with respect to politics. The idea that most are not is incomprehensible to most Colombians.
The questions about Trump were strong in Colombia, even before he started his insults to several ethnic groups, veterans, Latin Americans and especially Islamic countries. Some in Colombia even believed that Trump was Hillary Clinton’s stooge or that his candidacy was just a publicity stunt. As he continued to resonate within the Republican party, the reaction from many Colombians was to scratch their heads in confusion.
The candid question to many Americans by Colombians is, “How can an educated and sophisticated country like the US think that someone like Trump is even close to being presidential material?”.
On the other hand, many see Hillary Clinton as an unsatisfactory consolation price. They know her as the wife of a previous president, and potentially as a former Secretary of State.
Uber drivers that tend to be talkative can’t wait to engage in discussion about the possible presidency of Trump and what that would bring to Colombians. His unending rantings about Latin Americans – and lately Colombians – make them believe that they would not be welcome in the US.
A significant number of Colombians have relatives living in the US and believe that the trash talk about undocumented immigrants would bring a reaction to all immigrants. They are afraid that Latin Americans will be treated poorly and not given the chances that they otherwise deserve.
While Colombia has not had a woman president, several have been candidates of major parties.
In Colombia, Donald Trump would have no chance of becoming President. Only November’s election will tell how he fares in the United States.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is Colombian born and has lived in the US for 51 years, he is a combat Veteran of Vietnam, Environmental Engineer and now retired. He can be found in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).