Can a Woman Be President? Just Ask the Presidents of Latin America

Warren President BELatina
Photo Credit Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

With only three weeks left before the Iowa caucus, the race for the Democratic nomination just got real, with the best-polling candidates going at each other’s throats.

Not only has the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for his record on the Iraq War, but now some people close to the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren have accused Sanders of “misogynist” comments made in private more than a year ago.

As CNN reported, the moment both candidates threw their hats into the ring, they met at Warren’s apartment in DC to discuss how best to approach the campaign, in an effort to close ranks against Donald Trump.

Two people with whom Warren would have spoken after the meeting claimed that Sanders had told the candidate “he did not believe a woman could win.”

Not surprisingly, these comments come at the height of a career that has gradually become white and traditional, especially after non-white candidates such as Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker withdrew from the race.

As the days go by, it is becoming increasingly clear that the candidates who will be finalists are precisely Sanders, Warren, and Biden.

But the question remains: Can a woman be president?

The United States is one of the world powers that have yet to see a woman come to the White House, despite being one of the most progressive countries in the world.

In 2016, and if we count only the popular vote, the whole country chose Hillary Clinton as president. It was the Electoral College that changed the course of events and, with them, the future of the country, giving the victory to Donald Trump.

This is precisely what Sanders remembered when he disqualified the comments that have come to light this week.

“It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn’t win,” Sanders said in a statement to CNN. “It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”

However, this is something that the United States could learn from Latin America.

Despite their economic, political, and social differences, Latin countries have been pioneers in gender-inclusiveness in politics.

In forty years, Latin America has seen ten women sworn into the highest public office in their countries, the first being Violeta Barrios Torres, also known as Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who became president of Nicaragua in 1990, serving seven years.

Later, Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez in Panama between 1999 and 2004; Michelle Bachelet in Chile who was elected for four-year terms in 2006 and in 2014; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina between 2007 and 2015; Laura Chinchilla Miranda in Costa Rica between 2010 and 2014; and Dilma V. Rousseff in Brazil between 2011 and 2016. Janet Rosember Jagan led Guyana from 1997 to 1999.

Similarly, but in the position of interim or provisional president, were Isabel Perón in Argentina, Lidia Guelier Tejada in Bolivia, and Rosalía Arteaga Serrano in Ecuador.

A study carried out by researchers at the University of New Granada in 2018 showed that the work of these presidents had one feature in common: the struggle for democracy, the search for social welfare, anddespite specific cases such as Kirschner, Moscoso, and Rousseffcorruption and social instability were practically non-existent.

So can a woman become president?

The unique and irrefutable answer is yes we just need to fight the system that continues to prevent it.