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2021 Chilean Elections viewed through lens of First Generation Latin Americans as Presidents

As frequent attacks on immigrants routinely challenge the essence of the mythology of this nation as one of immigrants, it is instructive to briefly note the role of immigrants in the political landscape of the Nations south of our border. Unlike the U.S. where no first generation national has ever been elected president, unremarkably this Sunday Chileans will choose between two first-generation Chileans—one the son of Croatian-born parents and the other of German immigrants—for that nation’s highest elected office. Such candidacies and electoral victories of first generation citizens to their country’s highest office are unexceptional in the electoral politics of the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking nations of Caribbean, Central and South America. For the past five decades, first generation Italian, Japanese, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian citizens have served as Presidents of their respective nations.

The contributions of these immigrant groups have been adaptive and transformative as well as highly integrated without losing their distinctiveness in their New World countries. It is time to latinamericanize the presidential politics of our country.

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