¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Latin American Leaders Bukele and Milei Headline CPAC, Strengthening Ties with U.S. Conservatives

This week, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will host Presidents Nayib Bukele of El Salvador and Javier Milei of Argentina, marking a significant convergence between right-leaning Latin American leaders and the Republican Party. The presence of these leaders underscores a growing alliance, with both strategic and political implications.

While some Republicans see this alliance as an opportunity to bolster support for the upcoming November elections, Latin American leaders view it as a chance to cultivate relationships with potential future U.S. leaders and exert influence over foreign policy decisions.

According to Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University, the engagement with CPAC reflects efforts by Latin American leaders to establish rapport with potential future U.S. presidents. However, Gamarra cautions that aligning with a specific political faction carries risks, particularly if that faction loses influence.

The collaboration between the Latin American right and U.S. conservatives mirrors longstanding gatherings of left-wing political parties in Latin America, such as the Foro de São Paulo. While Democrats have not traditionally participated in such forums, some on the right have accused Democratic administrations of being influenced by leftist movements.

CPAC, once primarily a gathering for Republicans, has evolved into a platform dominated by former President Donald Trump and his allies. It has expanded internationally, with spinoff events in Brazil and other countries. The relationship between the Latin American right and Republicans was further solidified during Trump’s presidency, particularly through his close ties with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bukele and Milei’s presence at CPAC reinforces the anti-left message embraced by Republicans, particularly in their efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters. Both leaders have garnered attention for their outspoken views and policies, with Bukele emphasizing his efforts to combat crime in El Salvador and Milei advocating for economic reforms in Argentina.

Despite criticism of some of Bukele’s tactics, such as packing courts with loyalists, his governance model has gained popularity in the region, especially amid rising gang violence. The Biden administration, while initially critical of Bukele’s actions, has shown a willingness to engage with him, particularly on issues related to migration.

Milei, known for his populist economic views, has sought to implement bold economic reforms in Argentina to address the country’s economic crisis.

Overall, the presence of Bukele and Milei at CPAC signifies a deepening relationship between the Latin American right and U.S. conservatives, with implications for both domestic and international politics.