Britain’s exit from the European Union and Donald Trump’s candidacy for the U.S. presidency have dominated the media for some time now, with much of the coverage focusing on domestic and European Union impacts. While Brexit is a certainty, the popularity of Donald Trump, even should he not be elected president, may well usher in an era of greater U.S. isolation—Hillary Clinton has recently backed off from her earlier unconditional support for the TPP trade agreement. Only a handful of reports have explored the economic implications of these events for Latin America. Even fewer have explored the potential political fallout.
The rise of the Trump phenomenon in the U.S. and the victory of the leave vote in Great Britain have given rise to growing concern about the rise of xenophobia among apparently large swaths of the public in both countries. There has also been considerable fear that such uncharitable attitudes may usher in a new age of inward protectionist policies that will hurt trade and general social welfare. While there is no doubt that anti-immigrant/anti-foreign sentiment is a reality in both cases, it is important to understand the conditions under which opposition politicians have been able to cultivate such sentiments.