Friday, April 29, 2016

In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students

A student from last semester's Latin American Politics class got an op-ed from that class published at Latin America Goes Global on in-state tuition for undocumented students. It's provocative and I think it's pretty cool. She is in fact undocumented so the stakes for her are high.

Those who are opposed to DACA (and immigration generally) argue that giving DACA students in-state tuition takes jobs away from native-born children and citizens.  This is a competitive country and a competitive market and the U.S. has survived and thrived because it is a meritocracy.

So go check it out. She believes in the American Dream.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Donald Trump Lies Constantly About Immigration

In the past, say, 10 years, on the topic of immigration I've given countless talks, written articles, wrote a book, participated on panels, gone on radio, gone on TV, you name it. Sometimes it feels repetitive. Am I saying something substantively different from 10 years ago? And then I read about Donald Trump and feel like it's necessary to keep talking, even if I'm just repeating myself. From The Los Angeles Times:

 On the campaign trail, Donald Trump consistently portrays illegal immigration as a mounting crisis warranting drastic measures. 
"Just look at the record number of people right now that are pouring across the borders of this country," Trump said to reporters Tuesday night at a party celebrating his victory in five more Republican primary states. 
But Trump's claims of record levels of illegal immigration don't match the facts. 
Multiple studies show rates of illegal immigration are declining. 
And federal statistics show the lowest number of border apprehensions in years.

This isn't about interpretation, or unrealistic policy ideas. It's about lying. Just lying. And when a major presidential candidate repeats a lie over and over, you know many people will believe it. The repetition alone helps that. The lie leads encourages bigotry, bad policy, and fear. So the rest of us also have to keep repeating the facts, in public.


Selling Arkansas Rice to Cuba

John Boozman is a conservative Republican U.S.Senator from Arkansas. He also wants to end the Cuba embargo and wrote an op-ed about it.

The Obama administration has made excellent progress on the path to restoring trade with our Cuban neighbors, but we are now at the point where any further progress is dependent on leaders in Congress. We are lucky to have strong representation in Arkansas, from Gov. Asa Hutchinson to Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford, each of whom has come out in support of expanded trade opportunities for businesses and industries like mine. However, we need additional champions in Congress to continue this momentum to normalize trade so that Cuba can once again become a major U.S. trading partner. 

I find it really interesting that he a) consciously praises President Obama; and b) does not mention human rights or anything about Cuban politics at all. It is a purely capitalist argument, whereby Arkansan farmers are being disadvantaged and as their representative he wants to correct that. Period.

This isn't new in and of itself. Republican governors have led trade delegations to Cuba for years. But Obama's policy shift has made the bipartisan possibility even more apparent. The political sands that serve as the foundation of the Cuba embargo are shifting.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reginald Hill's An Advancement of Learning

As a break from the craziness of the end of the semester, I read Reginald Hill's An Advancement of Learning, a Dalziel and Pascoe mystery published in 1971. It takes place in a small college in Yorkshire. It's well plotted narrative, but more interesting as an historical piece, for two reasons.

First, 40+ years ago people were already complaining about the corporatization of higher education. As one character says, "Governments started thinking industrially about education, that is in terms of plant efficiency, productivity, quotas, etc." (p. 31). Some things never change. Plus, professors complain about how lazy students can be.

Second, the sexism is pervasive. The core of the story is about a Biology professor who was accused of having an affair with an undergraduate. Multiple people repeated that they did not care about the affair itself. That's just what happens. The problem is that the professor flunked the student, and there was a hearing to determine if--you know, just possibly--that he was biased. They were sure, of course, that he would be impartial because nice men who have sex with undergraduates are trustworthy.


Corruption in Paraguay

The other day I met Allison Braden, a recent college graduate who is interested in Latin America. She just published a piece in War is Boring about corruption in Paraguay. Not surprisingly, it is not an uplifting story.


Venezuela's Got No Electricity or Money

Nicolás Maduro announced that Venezuelan public sector workers will only work on Mondays and Tuesdays. The headline in the national news agency was that public services would be "guaranteed" on the other three days, but it's not clear what or how, especially if there is no electricity. The government is also considering fiddling around more with the time of day, which Hugo Chávez famously did back in 2007.

Meanwhile, inflation is increasing so rapidly that the government cannot print money quickly enough to make up for it.

Last month, De La Rue, the world’s largest currency maker, sent a letter to the central bank complaining that it was owed $71 million and would inform its shareholders if the money were not forthcoming. The letter was leaked to a Venezuelan news website and confirmed by Bloomberg News. 
“It’s an unprecedented case in history that a country with such high inflation cannot get new bills,” said Jose Guerra, an opposition law maker and former director of economic research at the central bank. Late last year, the central bank ordered more than 10 billion bank notes, surpassing the 7.6 billion the U.S. Federal Reserve requested this year for an economy many times the size of Venezuela’s. 

The IMF forecasts inflation in 2016 to exceed 700%. It's an economy held together with duct tape.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bad Analysis of Latin America

Commentary on Latin America has often been bad. Over the past decade I've written all kinds of posts refuting bad arguments. However, I feel like we're in a particular time of badness, based on the electoral defeats of leftist governments and the corruption scandals hitting governments of all political stripes. Note, however, that these stem from all ideological vantage points.
There are more, even way more, but that's enough for one day.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Rousseff Asks UNASUR and Mercosur for Help

Dilma Rousseff wants both Mercosur and UNASUR to keep an eye on the impeachment proceedings, basically to determine if her possible removal should be considered a violation of their democracy clauses. This is based on her argument that this is a coup. I've written before that I agree with those who do not see this as a coup, but there is precedent for suspension based on fishy impeachment.

Paraguay was suspended in 2012 because of Fernando Lugo's removal from office (which, if you remember, allowed Venezuela to finally enter the organization). But once there was a new election, everything went back to "normal." UNASUR made it clear it did not want Paraguay suspended for very long.

There is an extremely strong non-intervention streak in Latin America, and even governments friendly to Rousseff don't want to stick their necks out too far, if for no other reason than to resist having the same spotlight placed on themselves.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Political and Economic Disaster of Venezuela

David Smilde looks at the political and economic disaster of Venezuela. He echoes a common sentiment, which is that even after winning elections the opposition simply cannot get its act together. There is no unified voice, coordination, vision, plan, etc., which means limited ability to mobilize supporters in an effective way. As a result, the economy is falling apart yet the opposition is on its heels.

The opposition seems to be counting on the economic and electricity emergencies leading to a crisis of governance that will bring the Maduro government down. However, Chavismo still has considerable institutional strength and seems intent on making change look impossible by styming opposition initiatives. It is not unlikely that they will try to further reduce the National Assembly’s power in the coming months. 
But the real losers from this stalemate are the Venezuelan people who now more than ever need politicians that represent their interests. When asked, 90% of Venezuelans think the relationship between the opposition and the Maduro government will continue to be one of conflict. But incredibly, when asked what kind of relationship they would like to see, 85% each of: government supporters, government opponents and independents, suggested they would like to see cooperation to resolve Venezuela’s problems. This suggests that what we are seeing more than anything else in Venezuela is a crisis of representation, as two sides struggle for power, instead of collaborating to resolve the problems affecting average citizens. 

The average Venezuelan is losing, and that's the real tragedy.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Brazilian Crisis Isn't A Coup

At The Monkey Cage, Amy Erica Smith asks whether the crisis in Brazil is a coup. The answer is no.

What happened Sunday is analogous to jurors ruling against a defendant based not on the charges, but because they think she is a bad person. This does not constitute a coup, but it is a misuse of democratic procedures.

Concepts and definitions matter. "Terrorist" gets thrown around a lot, as does "genocide," "communist," and "dictator." What often happens is that we take pejorative terms and apply them to people or situations we don't like. By doing so we devalue valid cases and end up with a poorer understanding of what's actually going on and what likely consequences are. Brazil experienced a coup in 1964. What's happening now bears no resemblance to that.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Patricio Aylwin Has Died

Former Chilean President Patricio Aylwin has died. He was 97. He was a major political figure in 20th century Chilean politics. As a leader of the Christian Democratic Party, he played an important role in opposing Salvador Allende's policies, and shed no tears when he was overthrown. However, he came to regret that attitude after seeing, as so many of course did, that the military solution was far worse. As a news article wrote at the time of Aylwin taking office:

A day after the armed forces and police toppled Allende's Communist-backed government after three years of strikes, inflation and conflict, the Christian Democrats said that Allende had brought the coup on himself. They added that "the armed forces didn't seek this, but rather acted out of patriotism, with a sense of responsibility in the face of the historic destiny of Chile." 
That embittered Allende's Socialists and others in Allende's ruling Popular Unity coalition. Aylwin would later acknowledge that while the majority of Chileans agreed at the time, "in a variety of our evaluations, we were mistaken."

He quickly became highly critical of the dictatorship and was elected president in 1989, taking office in 1990. I did my dissertation research (which became this book) in the mid-late 1990s, and although I never interviewed him I talked to many of his associates as well as military officers. With Augusto Pinochet hovering around, he faced difficult trade-offs between stability and military accountability. The Rettig Commission, which investigated deaths but didn't name names, is an example of that trade-off. The 1990s was a time of complicated civil-military incrementalism.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Who is Getting US Security Aid in Central America?

Sarah Kinosian and Adam Isacson at WOLA have a great article on the composition of U.S. aid to Central America. The get down to specific initiatives and organizations that are receiving money, such as Salvadoran Army Intelligence, about which we know almost nothing.

This increase comes as the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are ramping up drug interdiction and border security efforts, and deploying security forces—often trained in military combat tactics—onto the streets to respond to high murder and crime rates. These heavy-handed policies have generated serious concerns and allegations of excessive use-of-force and extrajudicial executions. They raise questions about whether the United States has truly broken with its history of supporting unaccountable security forces in Central America, and whether these strategies can really keep populations safe or prevent drugs from reaching U.S. streets.

Adam has been doing this sort of work for many years, and so when he writes that it's unclear who is receiving money, it's because the information just isn't there. That sort of lack of transparency obviously does not create confidence.

But what they also get at is efficacy. There is a lot of doubt about whether the money is achieving what it is intended to achieve. The problem with massive aid packages is that they funnel large sums to money to lots of different groups, without enough attention to what's working. So you may well end up with a policy that potentially damages democracy without even achieving its stated goals.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Arguing Venezuela

The Washington Post published an editorial yesterday calling for undefined "political intervention" in Venezuela. The WaPo periodically publishes poorly-argued editorials on Latin America, which are basically Cold War conservative.

What I found more interesting was a response in Slate, which adopted a kitchen sink response about why intervention was not necessary, going back to the Guatemalan coup of 1954. I don't understand these responses, which are similar to meandering LASA resolutions. Back in 2013 I wrote about one such resolution, concluding:

I dislike lumping tons of unrelated things together. Get one issue alone and drive it home. Even if this is approved, it is a jumbled mess, with parts of it perhaps written a very long time ago.

I felt the exact same way reading this article. You actually convince fewer people when you jump all around, from Venezuela to presidential approval ratings (why are these relevant?) to the Middle East to Honduras back to Venezuela to Cold War Latin America to Noam Chomsky.

Effectively refuting the WaPo is not hard, and should not include references to anything except the many ways in which "political intervention" (and since the WaPo didn't define it you would have to do that first) will backfire. Otherwise we're just in a loop of people saying lots of non sequiturs to each other.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Calling Honduras A Coup

Boz has a post criticizing Hillary Clinton on the 2009 Honduran coup, and how in fact she says it was not a coup, though at the time President Obama openly did. I also recently read a post by Marie Berry (at Political Violence @ A Glance) about the real implications of naming something "genocide" or not. Naming is a major issue in Latin America for coups. But who is doing the naming, how is the naming being done, and what are the differing impacts of different ways of naming?

For years I've been grappling with this naming of coups. As I wrote several years ago with regard to Egypt, I used to talk about it in my Intro to Comparative Politics course, asserting that it mattered. In large part because of the Honduras case, I am no longer convinced. Oddly enough, the Obama administration seemed to believe it mattered because it danced around the issue for quite a while. Then Obama himself said it was a coup, and not much changed as a result.

But a key here is that the Obama administration did not make a formal ruling that it was a coup. As Hillary Clinton remarks:

If the United States government declares a coup, you immediately have to shut off all aid including humanitarian aid, the Agency for International Development aid, the support that we were providing at that time for a lot of very poor people, and that triggers a legal necessity. There's no way to get around it. So our assessment was, we will just make the situation worse by punishing the Honduran people if we declare a coup and we immediately have to stop all aid for the people, but we should slow walk and try to stop anything that the government could take advantage of without calling it a coup.

Here is Hillary Clinton right after Obama said in June 2009 that there was an illegal coup in Honduras:

Despite Obama's comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was not formally designating the ouster as a military coup for now, a step that would force a cut-off of most U.S. aid to Honduras.
Under U.S. law, no aid -- other than for the promotion of democracy -- may be provided to a country whose elected head of government has been toppled in a military coup."We do think that this has evolved into a coup," Clinton told reporters, adding the administration was withholding that determination for now. 
Asked if the United States was currently considering cutting off aid, Clinton shook her head no.

So it's not about just naming, it's about how you name. The president himself said it was a coup, but that's not legally saying it was a coup. Not long ago, he made a statement that Venezuela was a national security threat. That was a formal declaration that triggered sanctions. In Honduras that did not happen.


Venezuela Unhappy With US Desire For Cheap Oil

Nicolás Maduro says that the U.S. is applying pressure to avoid a deal by oil producers to "stabilize prices," by which he means to "make oil prices go up really high again by consolidating a monopoly."

"These are almost war-like pressure on governments, on heads of state," he said, adding that U.S. policy makers have a "fatal obsession" with Russia, OPEC and Venezuela's leftist government.

Actually, no, this has nothing to do with obsession about Venezuela or Russia. If anything, the U.S. would be happy if Venezuela did not completely collapse. However, the Obama administration is obsessed with spurring domestic economic growth through low oil prices. And in an election year, it works much better for the Democratic Party if oil prices do not go up right before a hugely important presidential election. Plus, from a foreign policy perspective the Obama administration is quite happy if low oil prices damage leaders like Putin, Maduro, Correa, etc.

All this boils down to, then, is national self-interest. Except for certain sectors in the United States, like oil boom towns and the workers who flocked to them, low oil prices are 100% positive for the Obama administration. So we should be surprised if it did nothing to maintain that situation.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hezbollah in Latin America Stuff

I've been writing for many years about the steady stream of exaggerated threat scenarios about Middle Eastern terrorists in Latin America (for a decade they've always been on the verge of an attack). In that vein, I saw that my own member of Congress traveled to Latin America to investigate the issue. I was pleased with the response:

“Hezbollah is active in Latin America.  We are concerned other terrorist organizations will follow.  After more than two dozen meetings with elected leaders, top government officials, and U.S. State Department personnel based in the region, I am encouraged the threat has been recognized and our friends are ready to join America in partnerships to intercept terrorism financing,” said Congressman Pittenger.  
“While our partners in South America are in full solidarity and cooperation with our efforts, they lack the technical capabilities and training to be fully effective.  We must work with them through our government agencies and the private sector to enhance support systems to identify and cut off the flow of money used to finance acts of evil.”

Latin America's response to the claims about terrorist threats have consistently been measured and rational. It is more "This is certainly something to keep watch on" rather than "There is a threat that might destroy us at any minute." Also, the focus on financing is good because, despite being an obvious problem, it keeps the threat response more firmly in the hands of civilians. Training for the identification of money laundering is so much better than training Latin American militaries to fight terrorists. I hope the focus stays this way.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Fujimori Ceiling in Peru

The latest results in Peru have Keiko Fujimori at 39.4%, Pedro Pablo Kuczynksi at 24%, and Veronika Mendoza at 16.7%. Turnout was 84%. The runoff is on June 5. The big question is locating what you might call the "Fujimori ceiling." In other words, what is the maximum that Fujimori can expect to gain in a second round?

What gets less attention is the fact that Kenji Fujimori, Keiko's brother, who may well become the next President of the Congress because Fujimoristas will likely have a majority. It looks like he received the highest number of votes of any member of Congress, and the second highest since Keiko won in 2006. The Fujimori ceiling could be pretty high.

Where will the left go? This is now a firmly conservative race. Voters who chose Mendoza will therefore have an unpalatable choice, and so their choice depends on how much they hate the Fujimori name. Otherwise they may be sorely tempted to spoil their ballot in protest. 15% of all presidential ballots were either blank or null, and almost 30% in congressional ballots. On Friday I wrote about the "I Hate You All" votes. The 15% was just about exactly the margin of victory between Fujimori and Kuczynksi. Given the choice between two conservative candidates, will they just spoil their ballot again? We'll have to see how strong the anyone-but-Fujimori vote is.


Friday, April 08, 2016

The "I Hate You All" Vote in Peru

Mollie Cohen, a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt, writes at AmericasBarometer about invalid voting in Peru and what that means for the upcoming presidential election. The upshot is that Peruvians do not trust political parties, so have the second highest (to Bolivia) rate of invalid voting, referring to intentional spoiling of ballots.

Since 1993, the number of invalid votes has been larger than the margin of victory between first and second place candidates in nearly 40% of all first‐round Latin American presidential elections. In other words, in more than a third of presidential elections, the second place candidate could have won the presidency had he or she captured these invalid votes.

Peru has a two round system so this is significant. The "I hate you all" vote could make the difference, but obviously chooses not to.

The most current Ipsos poll has Keiko Fujimori at 40.8% with no one else over 20%. She needs a majority to win in a first round. A major question is whether invalid votes in the first round remain so in the second. Do people spoil votes knowing the outcome will require a second election, then vote for real the second time? Or, do haters keep hating?


Thursday, April 07, 2016

Pinochet Still Lives Through Anti-Terrorist Law

El Mostrador takes a look at the long-standing controversy over Chile's anti-terrorist law, which was passed in 1984 during the Pinochet dictatorship. It allows for holding people without charges, phone tapping, and the like. If you'd like to see the law itself, here is the text. Pinochet's name, along with the junta, is right there at the bottom.

It clearly obstructs due process. The law is an authoritarian legacy that was used for repression and during her 2013 campaign Michelle Bachelet said she would not invoke it. She has not kept that promise and is even trying to parse her own past language.

[E]l Ejecutivo “no puede renunciar a ejercer alguna de las atribuciones que le entrega la ley” y que lo que dijo la Presidenta durante su campaña “tiene que ver con el juicio político que se hace de su eficacia y de las características de esta ley”.

And so her administration has used it five times in two years. Not surprisingly, that has created tensions within the Nueva Mayoría coalition. Added to this is the fact that it has been used a lot against Mapuche, to the point that the United Nations took notice in 2013 and condemned it.

It's amazing how "sticky" so many Pinochet-era laws have been, not to mention the constitution itself. Bit by but they've been removed or revised, but they've last a really long time.


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Organizing Crime in Venezuela

David Smilde has a great post on the ways in which crime in Venezuela is becoming more organized. In particular:

[W]e are seeing more massacres in which numbers of people in or near criminal groups are savagely murdered. This type of spectacular violence has the purpose of intimidating and demonstrating the dominance of the network of perpetrators over the network of victims. This type of violence is typical of battles between criminal networks, but also in the consolidation of a networks hegemony over a specific territory or market. 
He notes that there are several factors at work simultaneously. The state is weakened, especially because police salaries cannot keep up with prices and so must be supplemented illegally. In response the state is militarizing crime, which has bred mercenaries. As the economy collapses, violent illegal activity surges.

The paradox is that the state is both large and weak. It just is incapable of functioning well. As a result, organized groups (sometimes sponsored by the state itself) move into the vacuum and use violence to consolidate their positions.

Of course, there is no clear answer to all this.

Violence is most likely to occur when the question “who’s in charge?” does not have a clear response, or when the existing social equilibrium is unstable and can easily be challenged.

And those questions will not be answered quickly.


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Trump's Plan to Extort Mexico

Donald Trump's plan to force Mexico to pay for his wall would be funny if it wasn't an actual policy prescription. He has it in days. On Day 1 you cut off all remittances to Mexico. On Day 2 Mexico protests. On Day 3 President Trump would tell the Mexican government that remittances would start flowing--that is, he would stop enforcing his own law--once they coughed up billions (the exact amount is not given) for the wall. There are other threats, such as cancelling (not cutting, but cancelling existing) visas, raising the price of visas, and somehow forcing Mexico to buy more U.S. goods. The Trump memo uses the verb "compelling" rather than "extorting."

Extortion is the proposal of the front-runner of the Republican Party.

I always find it odd how people believe that punishing Mexico (or Central America) can make the immigration situation better. Forcing a neighboring country into depression leads both to more emigration and to violence, all of which would immediately reverberate back into the United States. I suppose people figure that a 1,000 foot wall (or whatever Best Trump Wall In The World would be) would magically stop that.

That such a proposal of intentional immiseration comes--and gleefully no less--from a front-runner should make us all feel shame.


Monday, April 04, 2016

Fallout of Panama Papers

The Panama Papers have taken the world by storm. If you haven't already, check out the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It's just an incredible thing to look through.

It is a reminder, if indeed we needed one, that greed transcends ideology. Thus we have the Chilean far-right:

Alfredo Ovalle Rodríguez was president of Chile's largest and most important business organization from 2006 to 2008. He was also president of the Chilean National Mining Society (Sonami) from 2005 until resigning in late 2009 following questions raised by the Chilean Center for Investigative Journalism, CIPER, about his longtime ties to the former head of finance for DINA, a secret police force under former President Augusto Pinochet. Ovalle was the link between DINA’s Humberto Olavarría Aranguren, who was his partner in domestic and foreign companies, and former Panama President Guillermo Endara, who had explained the value of incorporating in Panama to Ovalle during the 1960s in New York. Endara helped Olavarría create companies tied to Operation Condor, which involved terrorist attacks on political dissenters, including the 1976 Washington, D.C. car-bomb assassination of a former Chilean ambassador to the United States.

And the Ecuadorian left:

Galo Chiriboga is an Ecuadorian lawyer and politician. Chiriboga is currently Ecuador’s attorney general. He previously served as minister for labor, minister for mines and petroleum and ambassador to Spain. He is a distant relative of Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa.

What will the political fallout be? At this point we're in what you might call "data dump mode." The details are coming out but it's an avalanche. This will be injected into already difficult political situations in places like Brazil (and see Simon Romero's piece today in the NYT about corruption in Worker's Party) and Venezuela. It will affect Panama itself as the epicenter. Mauricio Macri and Enrique Peña Nieto are specifically mentioned.

But it is also occurring at a time when anti-corruption actions are more active than ever before in Latin America.  Therefore this is a good time to be a prosecutor. It would be useful to use the Panama Papers to push for extended international assistance in pursuing prosecutions of corruption. Of course, one difficulty is that presidents may well have associates or officials in their government who are implicated, which would make them resistant to losing control of the prosecution process. But the time is ripe for pushing back harder against corruption.

For now we sit back and watch. Hopefully this won't just be a string of resignations followed by business as usual.


Friday, April 01, 2016

Hacking Elections in Latin America

A group of Bloomberg reporters have written a hair-raising and detailed story about a hacker (currently in prison) who helped the Enrique Peña Nieto campaign and others across Latin America, always for conservative candidates. Fake social media accounts, shutting down government websites, hacking politicians' emails and phones, and the like are all happening, even with regularity.

If you're interested in Latin American elections at all then you need to go read the whole thing.

He says he wants to tell his story because the public doesn’t grasp the power hackers exert over modern elections or the specialized skills needed to stop them. “I worked with presidents, public figures with great power, and did many things with absolutely no regrets because I did it with full conviction and under a clear objective, to end dictatorship and socialist governments in Latin America,” he says. “I have always said that there are two types of politics—what people see and what really makes things happen. I worked in politics that are not seen.”

It's really a continuation of past corrupt practices by other, newer means. Simply stuffing ballot boxes is so 20th century. It's all terribly destructive for democracy.

Of course, this is the sort of thing that bolsters conspiracy theories, because sometimes the conspiracies are true. And, btw, they might even be true in the United States.

Last year, based on anonymous sources, the Colombian media reported that Rendón was working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Rendón calls the reports untrue. The campaign did approach him, he says, but he turned them down because he dislikes Trump. “To my knowledge we are not familiar with this individual,” says Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks. “I have never heard of him, and the same goes for other senior staff members.” But Rendón says he’s in talks with another leading U.S. presidential campaign—he wouldn’t say which—to begin working for it once the primaries wrap up and the general election begins.

And no, this is not an April Fool's post.


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