Elections in the United States were, as is often the case, a close nail-biting affair. Although the vote took place on November 3, it wasn’t until November 7 that all major US media outlets were calling Joe Biden the clear winner of the race, even though Donald Trump is still looking for ways to challenge the result in courts, and denouncing “fraud” in some key swing states against his candidacy.
In such a contentious context, it was interesting to see which Latin American leaders stepped up to congratulate Biden as the new president elect, and which held back waiting for further legal challenges.
The graphic above, courtesy of the Wilson Center, shows that Argentina’s Alberto Fernández was the first to tweet Joe Biden a congratulating message. In private, the Argentine government was cautiously positive about Biden’s win for a couple reasons, seeing him as friendlier than Trump in regional matters, as the latter had been much more of a close ally to former president Mauricio Macri (for whom he was instrumental in facilitating a nearly USD 50 billion IMF loan) or Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.
In addition, Fernández had picked a fight with Trump for the leadership of the IADB, hoping that he could postpone the vote until after the incumbent US president lost and stepped down to promote his own candidate, Gustavo Béliz. Trump won the IADB battle, but the government’s calculations that Trump could be about to lose the presidency were not wrong.
In the rest of the continent, it was interesting to see that both sides in Venezuela’s conflict saluted Biden on the same day as Argentina and almost everyone else, while Bolivia and Cuba only took a few hours more.
The only real two real standouts were no small players, though: Brazil and Mexico.
Jair Bolsonaro’s political loyalty to Trump is clear, and he held that position when asked about the matter recently, questioning if the elections were actually already over. Bolsonaro even got into a diplomatic spat with Biden already, saying that he took his campaign’s words on potentially sanctioning Brazil for ecological damage to the Amazonia as a threat, and that he was ready to answer that with “powder” if it came to that.
As for Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador argued that he would rather “wait until all the legal matters are solved”, that Trump had been “very respectful towards us” and that his country “didn’t want to be imprudent”. Despite coming from the left, López Obrador’s relationship with Trump has been a good one throughout their shared time in office, and López Obrador’s history of denouncing election fraud against him in presidential elections (and protesting foreign nations that were quick to call other candidates as winners) means that he is only being coherent with his political past. Despite that, López Obrador said, his relationship with Joe Biden is “also positive.”