Heard Round the World

AS AMERICANS WERE GRIPPED ON JAN. 6 BY THE SCENE OF A VIOLENT MOB OVERTAKING THE CAPITOL, so too were people from all over the world, including international leaders who weighed in with statements throughout the day, condemning the riot.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the U.S. must be upheld – and it will be.”

Alfonso Silva, Chilean ambassador in the U.S., seemed to have seen it coming: “It didn’t start yesterday,” he said. “It started a long time ago when the president on his speeches questioned mail voting, early voting; when he said voting machines could be forged, when he seeded doubt about election results.”

Perhaps the most striking announcement came from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who leads an authoritarian regime and whom the U.S. State Department defines as an illegitimate leader and dictator. “With this unfortunate episode, the United States suffers the same it has generated in other countries with its policies of aggression,” Maduro said. “Venezuela hopes the acts of violence will cease soon and the American people can finally open to a new path for stability and social justice.”

William Arrocha, a professor of international policy and development at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, says the Capitol takeover is a game-changing event for how the United States is viewed on the world stage, and that after Jan. 6, the U.S. won’t be able to promote, lecture or demand democracy to other countries the same way it has done it since World War II.

“The United States has to find its place in the international community under new terms; they cannot longer think they are the cops of the world,” Arrocha says.

While coups and sieges on existing power are mostly unheard of on American soil, they are not uncommon in other parts of the world. On Aug. 18, chaos broke out in Mali’s capital city, Banako, when soldiers toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

In Latin America, several coups and oustings have occurred in recent years. In 2019, Evo Morales was ousted in Bolivia after he ran for a fourth term. The opposition alleged his win was fraudulent and violent anti-Morales protests swept the country. In 2016, after 13 years of radical and progressive politics, the Brazilian parliament orchestrated a coup against President Dilma Rousseff.

As a starting point for redefining its global engagements, Arrocha recommends the U.S. reenter agreements and organizations it left during the Trump administration, such as the Paris climate agreement, United Nations Human Rights Council and World Health Organization.

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