One of the US’s largest Democratic campaign groups has launched an ad saying Donald Trump “acts like a caudillo” – meaning a Latin American authoritarian or a dictator.
In the online videos, produced by “super PAC” Priorities USA, people who moved to the US from countries such as Cuba and Venezuela compare Trump to the authoritarian figures whose governments they fled.
One of them features Virginia, an “educator and social worker”, who compares Trump to Hugo Chavez:
Virginia is a Venezuelan-American educator and social worker. After Trump’s election, living in the U.S. makes her nervous because it reminds her of the country she was forced to flee. Today, we must ask ourselves: Is it #PresidentsDay or #CaudilloDay? pic.twitter.com/WLF7bGatYF— Priorities Florida (@PrioritiesFL)February 17, 2020
Another features poetry professor Virgil, who came to the US from Cuba decades ago. He calls Trump “a charlatan and a scoundrel” who “thinks he’s a dictator”.
Virgil left Cuba for Florida in the 1970s. He never anticipated that 50 years later, he would see his home country’s history threaten to repeat itself on American soil. Today, we must ask ourselves: Is it #PresidentsDay or #CaudilloDay? pic.twitter.com/nDeexllv3L— Priorities Florida (@PrioritiesFL)February 17, 2020
Priorities USA launched the videos on Presidents’ Day, tweeting them out using the hashtag #caudilloday. The ads target Trump's personalisation of political debate, his attacks on the media, and his record of denigrating and firing staff who defy him.
Comparing Trump to Hugo Chavez, Virginia says: “They make decisions with no consideration for the consequences.
“They fire public employees linked to him or his adminstration, just because they’re not convenient to him or they disagree, and they do it in front of the television cameras, humiliating them.
“Overall, Hugo Chavez did not behave like a president, nor does Donald Trump behave like president of one of the greatest world powers.”
The videos are launching just as the Democratic primary heads to Nevada, where the candidates are courting the state’s many Latino voters in hopes of gaining an edge in their contest.
Winning over Latino voters is crucial for the Democrats in various traditional swing states, including Nevada and Florida, as well as in states that were previously uncompetitive but have been gradually trending towards the Democrats, like Arizona.
However, the so-called “Latino vote” includes many different groups who have specific histories and interests. Among them are Cubans, concentrated in Florida in particular, whom the “caudillo” ads are specifically intended to appeal to.
Exit polls showed that at the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won 65 per cent of the overall Latino vote – down from Barack Obama’s 71 per cent in 2012.