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Republican Party aligns with Latin American democrats in effort to encourage Spanish-speaking immigrants to vote

On a recent night outside Washington, the Argentine president was the eyes and ears of a crowd of conservatives who had gathered to hear Donald Trump speak. “Hello, everyone,” Javier Millay called out in a raspy voice, then introduced himself as a lion.

“It’s such a beautiful day that my left side is shaking,” Millais joked.

While his eccentricity may have seemed novel to audiences unaware of how he has used the lion as a brand to symbolize his fierce stance on socialism, far-right populists have been , which became well-known among Latinos in the United States last year. Also present at the Conservative Political Action Conference was Nayib Boucle, the millennial president of El Salvador, who delighted the audience with a speech in fluent English that mocked philanthropist George Soros and “globalism.”

The Republican Party is aligning itself with some Latin American populists as a way to inject star power and the political climate of immigrants’ home countries into this year’s U.S. elections. Republican leaders who have infiltrated South Florida’s Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American communities by attacking self-proclaimed socialist leaders are trying to find ways to connect with President Trump and leaders familiar to Spanish-speaking voters across the country. It reproduces that model by fostering relationships between

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Mercedes Schlapp, a former Trump aide, told a Spanish-language newscaster that Democrats had long cultivated the Latino vote, but when Trump was seeking re-election in 2020, strategists told him, Do the best you can,” he said. Get the Latino vote. ” Schlapp said part of that includes asking the people’s elected leaders to participate in recent conservative rallies.

The Trump campaign is focusing on appealing to Latino voters. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

According to the Pew Center for Hispanic Studies, there are about 2.5 million Salvadorans living in the United States, outnumbering Cubans. The Argentine diaspora is much smaller. But both Mr. Bukele and Mr. Millei have attracted the attention of Latin American immigrants as a populist counterweight to the left-wing forces that dot the region.

José Arriaga, a Peruvian immigrant who attended CPAC as a Republican leader for a Michigan township, said after his speech that Bukele was Trump, who is facing the Republican nomination for the third time and a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden. compared with Mr.

“Bukele is not only saying the right things, he is getting results,” Arriaga said. “Mr Bukele and Mr Trump have the same message. They want to stop crime, they want to improve the economy, provide more jobs and give everyone a chance to get ahead. ing.

“They both want to rule with an iron fist, but one speaks Spanish and the other speaks English,” he said.

Millay campaigned using a chainsaw as a prop to campaign for drastic cuts in Argentina, and has publicly praised Trump. Miley didn’t bring a chainsaw to CPAC, but when she saw Trump between speeches, he ran up to him yelling “President!” And she hugged him tightly before she took the photo. “We will make Argentina great again,” Trump said, referring to Milley’s campaign slogan, according to a video posted by one of her aides.

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The day before the trip, Milley met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden administration officials in Buenos Aires. One of Ms. Milley’s cabinet members said U.S. Ambassador Mark Stanley, a Texas lawyer and Democratic donor, did not want to attend alongside President Trump, calling CPAC a “highly political” event. He said he tried to dissuade Millais.

The State Department did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires said, “We do not comment on private meetings.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American supporter of Mr. Trump, traveled to Argentina’s Casa Rosada last week to meet Mr. Milay and say, “No hey,” meaning “I don’t have any money.” I asked him to sign a mug with the slogan ‘Plata’ on it. Millais used this phrase to argue that the state should not subsidize public programs.

Eduardo Verastegui is a conservative activist who rose to fame in the 1990s as a popular Mexican TV novelist who attempted to run as an independent for Mexico’s president. He describes President Trump as a friend and was invited to advise him on Hispanic issues in 2020.

“It’s unique that they come here in an election year. They can wake up the Hispanic community in the United States,” Verastegui said. “I think this could be a turning point.”

Maca Casado, a spokeswoman for the Biden campaign, criticized Trump’s plans to appeal to Latinos, saying his policies as president and proposals as a candidate are anti-immigrant.

“We are talking about consistently demonizing Latinos for political gain, using his time in office to attack the Latino community, even parroting dictators, This is the man who went so far as to say that immigrants are poisoning the blood of the nation,” Casado said in a statement. statement. “Our community knows the truth: The Trump party doesn’t care about Latinos.”

Benjamin Guedan, director of the Latin America program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said these leaders were either “deliberately antagonizing the White House or making easily avoidable diplomatic mistakes.” You are committing a crime,” he warned.

Bukele is perhaps even more popular at CPAC, where dozens of supporters honked and shouted his name after his speech Thursday.

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A Spanish-language journalist from Voz Media, a conservative news organization based in Texas, asked Mr. Boucle a question about Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. Bukele said the Biden administration had “no interest in working with us.” He said relations between the two countries were “much better” under the Trump administration, but stopped short of expressing support for Trump. “I’ll leave that to the people.”

Bukele has become hugely popular in El Salvador as a result of a war on gangs that has led to the detention of 76,000 people, and is also growing in popularity among Salvadorans in the United States, who are found in large numbers in California, Texas, and New York.

In his speech, Bukele strongly criticized the Clinton administration for deporting members of gangs formed in the United States by Salvadoran immigrants fleeing the 1979-1992 civil war. That gang is his MS-13, which is often mistakenly thought to have been founded in El Salvador.

Bukele’s advisers said the leader wanted to come to meet with conservatives to further efforts to rebuild El Salvador. Murder rates have fallen sharply, and the country has gone from being one of the most violent countries in the Americas to being one of the safest.

At a hotel directly across the street from the conservative venue, two hotel maids knew exactly when Bukele would appear and were eager to catch a glimpse of him, saying his country, El Salvador, had changed.

When asked if they were equally excited to meet President Trump, they smiled and shook their heads.

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