Biden says Latin America is US ‘front yard,’ Trump says ‘backyard’ — Pick your flavor of neocolonialism

Benjamin Norton
4 min readJan 23, 2022

What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Trump says backyard and Biden says front yard. Otherwise they share 95% of the same warmongering, capitalist, imperialist policies.

(Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí.)

People in Latin America often ask me what is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. For those outside of the United States, the two hegemonic parties seem so similar that they’re difficult to tell apart.

The reality, of course, is that the Republican and Democratic Parties are indeed nearly identical. When we look past all of the superficial Culture War battles they wage to distract the US public, we can clearly see that the two ruling-class parties share 95% of the same policies — and are funded by the same billionaire capitalist oligarchs and exploitative mega-corporations to obediently serve their economic interests.

The Joe Biden administration has made this undeniable. The Democratic president campaigned on promises to reverse Trump’s disastrous policies, only to continue the vast majority of them.

At a press conference on January 19, the current president accidentally revealed what the real difference between him and former head-of-state is: Trump thinks that Latin America is the US empire’s backyard, while Biden insists it is Washington’s “front yard.”

You can see Biden’s comments in the official transcript published at the White House:

“We used to talk about, when I was a kid in college, about ‘America’s backyard,’” he said in the presser. “It’s not America’s backyard. Everything south of the Mexican border is America’s front yard.

So now, when people in Latin America ask me to describe the differences between Republicans and Democrats, I have the perfect answer: Republicans think you are their backyard, whereas Democrats think you are their front yard.

Pick your favorite flavor of neocolonialism.

Biden has been in power for exactly one year as of today, January 20. And he has failed to accomplish anything significant. (His long overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan does deserve an honorable mention, but it is greatly overshadowed by Biden’s hawkish policies against the rest of the world — not to mention the devastating sanctions his administration has imposed on Afghanistan, which are starving millions of civilians.)

Far from breaking with Trump, Biden has doubled down on the far-right former president’s worst policies:

  • Biden still recognizes coup puppet Juan Guaidó as fake “president” of Venezuela, and has maintained Trump’s murderous sanctions.
  • Not only has Biden not removed any of the hundreds of crippling sanctions that Trump imposed on Cuba; he has in fact further expanded the US economic warfare against the Caribbean nation, to such a degree that the New York Times wrote that “Biden is taking an even harder line on Cuba than” Trump.
  • Biden has continued the borderline genocidal, scorched-earth war on Yemen, which was expanded by Trump and started by Joe’s running mate Obama.
  • After Trump unilaterally tore up the Iran nuclear deal, the Biden administration has refused to return to it, demanding that Tehran agree to a series of unreasonable new demands.
  • Biden has kept US troops illegally occupying Iraq (where the democratically elected parliament voted overwhelmingly to expel them) and Syria (where they are preventing the central government from accessing its own oil and wheat reserves as it suffers under a suffocating Western sanctions regime).
  • Biden has maintained the witch hunt that Trump’s Justice Department launched against WikiLeaks journalist and political prisoner Julian Assange, who is being tortured in a maximum-security British prison as he awaits extradition to the Land of the Free for a show trial.
  • Biden fulfilled the Trump administration’s plans to extradite — that is, kidnap — Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who was detained and held in horrific conditions for circumventing illegal US sanctions to buy food for the Venezuelan people.
  • As more than 850,000 North Americans have died, Biden’s Covid-19 policies (or lack thereof) have for the most part been identical to those of Trump. The bipartisan strategy is to put profits over people’s lives and let corporations quite literally dictate “public health” policies.
  • Biden has accelerated the new cold war on both China and Russia, while imposing more and more sanctions around the globe.
  • Heck, Biden has even managed to deport more migrant children than the inveterate racist Trump.

Meanwhile, inside the United States, Biden’s own party has blocked all attempts at passing significant legislation.

The US government is so thoroughly undemocratic, so entirely beholden to capital, it has become a dysfunctional basket case. Its “democratic” window dressing has melted away, and all that is left is a stone-cold authoritarian regime controlled by billionaire oligarchs, a textbook dictatorship of the capitalist class.

The only thing the US empire can do anymore is do what is has always done: escalate its imperial aggression abroad, endlessly pour money into the gaping maw of the Military-Industrial Complex, try to tame the voracious appetite of the death cult of capitalism — use war abroad to distract from the mass death, skyrocketing inequality, growing poverty, dire homelessness, police brutality, and mass incarceration at home.



Benjamin Norton

Benjamin Norton is an independent journalist reporting on geopolitics. // Benjamín Norton es un periodista independiente informando sobre la geopolítica.