Before everyone jumps down my throat, let me make one thing clear: I will vote for Hillary Clinton. This is not the post of a disgruntled Bernie fan. I voted for Hillary in the primaries because, when thinking about the issues that matter most to me and make the biggest difference in my everyday life, I trust that Clinton will protect reproductive rights, improve the educational system, and institute better policies for working families. I respect Clinton’s intelligence, career experience, and track record of making changes for (mostly white) women.
But, I still feel super uneasy about voting for Clinton. As a Latina, I am critical of her actions toward Latinx voters as well as her foreign policy record in Latin America. As these two facets of my identity are inseparable, it has left me feeling highly uncomfortable about my choice in this election. Basically, I can vote for the woman who is friends with the man who helped to orchestrate the Chilean coup, or I can vote for a rapist Cheeto who will almost certainly increase deportations exponentially.
Young people of color deserve better options in this election. Here’s why.
Ever since December 2015, it has been no secret that Hillary Clinton has been doing her damnedest to win the Latinx vote. Around Christmastime, the Clinton campaign gifted Latinx with this steaming pile of garbage:
Siiiii! I thought, when I first saw this. Hillary Clinton is just like my abuela because she’s also fervently Catholic, the matriarch of a large family, and dead!
This is not even the hugest falto de respeto que la Hillary has inflicted upon Latinx and Latin Americans. Forget about Benghazi for a second, and think about Tegucigalpa. In 2009, the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was illegally removed from power by the members of the military. At this time, Clinton was Secretary of State, and could have directed foreign policy to restore Zelaya, who had instituted free education, higher minimum wages, and economic progress. As journalist Juan González documents in The New York Daily News, Clinton’s foreign-policy advisor Anne-Marie Slaughter forcefully encouraged her to act against the coup.
Clinton did not encourage Zelaya’s reinstatement. Instead, she pushed for new elections in Honduras that resulted in a conservative regime. According to Al-Jazeera America, here’s what happened in Honduras after these new elections:
The homicide rate in Honduras, already the highest in the world, increased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011; political repression, the murder of opposition political candidates, peasant organizers and LGBT activists increased and continue to this day. Femicides skyrocketed. The violence and insecurity were exacerbated by a generalized institutional collapse. Drug-related violence has worsened amid allegations of rampant corruption in Honduras’ police and government. While the gangs are responsible for much of the violence, Honduran security forces have engaged in a wave of killings and other human rights crimes with impunity.
Despite this, however, both under Clinton and Kerry, the State Department’s response to the violence and military and police impunity has largely been silence, along with continued U.S. aid to Honduran security forces.
Just to summarize, in case it’s not clear enough, Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State contributed to increasing far-right militarization and political repression in Honduras. To make matters worse, she admitted in her biography Hard Choices that her strategy in Honduras was to “render the question of Zelaya moot.” Yet, the coup in Honduras should not have been a moot point, given that many Latin American leaders and even the United States General Assembly advocated for his reinstatement.
I cannot fully support any candidate who takes such a casual approach to political repression in Latin America, and here’s why: members of my own family suffered under the dictatorship in Chile that resulted after a military coup removed the democratically elected president. Realistically, political repression means no elections for twenty years. Military rule means curfews for civilians, repressions of all civil rights, and a pervasive culture of fear. I don’t want that to happen ever again in Latin America because I have heard firsthand from my own family and from other Chileans about the devastating effects of military rule.
A coup is anything but moot, and I’m disturbed by Clinton’s cavalier attitude about the suspension of democrary in Honduras. This doesn’t bode well for her foreign policy. But, though this line of inquiry is depressing, it makes for a great segway.
Q: Who was Pinochet’s biggest fan and also helped engineer the Chilean coup in the Nixon administration?
A: Henry Kissinger!
Q: Who do Bill and Hillary Clinton go on vacation with to the Dominican Republic, and have done so for years?
Folks, Henry Kissinger is pure evil. Greg Grandin from The Nation puts it best:
Kissinger is a unique monster. He stands not as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s feared recklessness and immorality but as his progenitor. As Richard Nixon’s aide-de-camp, Kissinger helped plan and execute a murderous, illegal foreign policy—in Southeast and South Asia, Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America—as reckless and immoral as anything Trump now portends.
As for Chile, Kissinger supported Pinochet for years in the Nixon Administration. The State Department declassified documents in 2013 that extensively detail his involvement with Pinochet, and liberals have long decried Kissinger’s human rights record not only in Chile but in many other countries. You can pore through it yourself, or you can just sit with the fact that Kissinger is quoted ON RECORD as wanting to “make the economy scream” just because Chile had the gumption to elect a socialist president.
I don’t fucking care that Kissinger is 93. If I ever met him, I would punch him in the face.
Hillary, why are you laughing with him? Why are you positively reviewing his book? Why are you going on vacation with him? Why are you looking to him for insight and advice? Clinton has said this herself when reviewing Kissinger’s book World Order in The Washington Post: “Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state.”
I am terrified that Clinton would look to Kissinger for counsel. Though, I guess if your question is “How do I do actively block democracy in Latin America?” Kissinger is your man. If you care about Latin America at all, Clinton is not your candidate.
Additionally, if you want to see more Latinx representation in politics, Clinton also betrayed the Latinx community by nominating Tim Kaine as her vice president. Clinton’s shortlist included liberal Democrats Julián Castro, Tom Pérez, and Xavier Becerra. Instead, she chose the former governor of Virginia Tim Kaine, in part because he could speak fluent Spanish.
However, The Washington Post reported on a Univision poll that 75% of the Latinx electorate does not prioritize whether a candidate is fluent in Spanish. Personally, I think there’s nothing better than appealing to Latinx by picking the guy who is not Latinx but sounds a lot like your junior high school Spanish teacher. Latinx love getting served with their fourth choice and being told to be grateful (sorry, agradecidos).
I’ve changed my opinion a bit about Kaine after reading the insightful The New Yorker profile of him that came out last week, and I hope (perhaps foolishly) that he will defend the rights of Latinx as vice-president. However, the fact of the matter is still that Clinton had the chance to incorporate a young person of color onto the national platform and did not. My issues with Hillary, and with the election in general, come down to this: I don’t want to wait any longer to see Latinx on the national political stage.
I don’t want to be appeased with talk of conservatism, pragmatism, and moot points. I am waiting for a candidate who has Clinton’s strong support of women and families with a strong respect for Latinx and an ear for progressive Latin American policy. That candidate, who does not currently exist, would truly represent all of the parts of my intersectional identity. I know that I am not alone in this feeling, and I hope to someday see many more folks of different races, ethnicities, classes, sexualities, and genders on the national stage. It’s so hard to feel excited about an election that looks exactly like the world that my friends, colleagues, and I work hard everyday to eradicate.
If I wasn’t truly afraid that the country would implode if I did not vote, I would not be with Her.