Joe Biden said he isn’t a socialist, but Latino voters paid more attention to what he wasn’t willing to say, a Latino Christian leader said.
Latino voters have indicated that fears of socialism drove them to mark the ballot for President Donald Trump.
“I was in Venezuela 20 years ago,” Tony Suarez, chief operating officer of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told The Christian Post. “The government there was promising to give you this and that, and now they’re dying of starvation. Socialist government wants to take over every part of your life.”
For Latinos like Suarez, whose family fled to the United States to escape religious persecution in Colombia, socialism means death and starvation. When Suarez described it, his voice rose in intensity.
“It’s what Biden doesn’t say,” he said.
Biden’s refusal to denounce members of his own party who are openly socialist, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, felt equivalent to Trump refusing to denounce white supremacists, he said.
“He won’t denounce the extremism of Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad. When Americans marched in favor of Donald Trump, Joe Biden said nothing to denounce violent attacks on them from Antifa and the Left. If his message is unity and healing, then why would he not say something when some Americans were attacked in Washington, D.C?”
Trump’s supporters, who believe voter fraud played a part in this year’s election, were in Washington on Saturday for the Million MAGA March. Clashes with counter protesters, including a stabbing, were reported.
Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates released a statement Monday, saying, ”President-elect Biden continues to denounce all acts of violence,” while not calling out specific groups.
Spanish news network Telemundo said concerns around socialism and narratives painting Biden as a socialist were the reason that Latinos voted for Trump in never-before-seen numbers.
“Constant attacks by the President against Joe Biden—now president elect—accusing him falsely of being ‘socialist' and ‘the candidate of Chavismo,’ seem to have been affective in attracting Venezuelan voters, even though they were based in lies,” the article said. “Chavismo” is the Venezuelan brand of socialism, which focuses on strong social welfare nets, government control of some industries and a focus on social justice.
In Doral, a city east of Miami with a high percentage of Venezuelans, Trump won nearly 51% of votes in 2020. In 2016, he won 22% of Doral’s votes. Pew Research Center found that Florida’s Venezuelan population registered to vote in record numbers, registering a 184% increase since 2008.
“It’s very unfair and blatantly disrespectful of Telemundo to characterize the Latino vote as misguided,” Suarez said. “There is a mistrust from the Hispanic community toward Biden.”
Suarez said Trump’s surprising Latino support comes from voters who know Biden’s policies from the Obama administration and don’t want them. President Barack Obama and Biden never passed an immigration bill and separated families at the border. Effective immigration policy is as important to many Latinos as a stand against socialism.
“If you want to understand the Latino vote, Barack Obama and Joe Biden had the worst immigration policy of any presidential administration,” Suarez said. “They’re guilty of what they accused Trump of doing. They promised they would get immigration reform done their first term. They had a Democratic House and Senate and they didn’t even bring a bill to the floor.”
Although Trump has focused on improving security at the border, he also has done little to address concerns on immigration reform. His administration decreased legal immigration and lowered the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Families were also separated at the border under the Trump administration.
Suarez, who serves as a member of Trump’s faith advisory board, said he still prefers Trump’s stance on immigration over Biden’s.
“I have fought for immigration reform for nine years,” he said. “Latinos feel they have a better chance at times getting things in with Trump than with Biden.”
As much of the media has claimed Biden the winner, Latino political concerns remain much the same, said Suarez. They want a good economy, strong religious liberty protections, pro-life policies and a solution to immigration policy.
“I think our same priorities will continue,” he said.