Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Someone Please Start Studying Latin American Twitter Diplomacy

Yesterday Juan Guaidó started negotiating with Nicolás Maduro and the international community via Twitter. For years now, well before Donald Trump was even a candidate, Latin American presidents have used Twitter to excite their base, snipe at foreign adversaries, and lay out their preferred policy options.

And yet no one is publishing academic works on the phenomenon. There are plenty of works on Twitter diplomacy in general, or on non-Latin American countries. But this has been a big deal in the region and deserves analysis. Up to now, there is virtually nothing.

There is one article examining "populism," but this is a term fraught with problems so it's of limited utility. Another simply argues that there is no common usage of Twitter by Latin American presidents. We need more than this, focusing on public diplomacy via Twitter. Latin American political leaders clearly view the medium as useful and important, but scholars somehow don't, ironically perhaps even as they closely follow such exchanges on their own.

So Guaidó talks to Maduro and the world, Hugo Chávez and Alvaro Uribe sparred all the time, Rafael Correa went and still goes on rants about foreign policy, post-presidency Vicente Fox got full-on weird about foreign policy, Evo Morales rails against the United States, and those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. We need to study this stuff and figure out whether and how it changes our traditional ways of understanding international relations. For some reason, no one is bothering.


Hari 11:01 AM  

Totally on point, Greg.

I had presented a small paper back in 2012 about this, at an academic conference in India. The point you make is also reflected in a larger trend, which confirms that Latin Americans in general use social media much more regularly than any other region - so naturally, their political leaders find it useful to take advantage of this platform in as many ways as they see fit.

Any research on social media use in Latin America and also the interplay between politics and social media would be immensely useful for not just political scientists and the media industry, but also for politicians and government officials.

Some links on social media usage in Latin America:

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