Populism, Media, and Misinformation in Latin America
Siles González, Ignacio
Tristán Jiménez, Larissa María
Carazo Barrantes, Carolina
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Latin America has had a long, complex, and complicated relationship with populism. Political figures in the region are usually considered some of the very founders or most iconic representatives of populism (De la Torre, 2000), starting with classic forms of populism (Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico, Juan Domingo Perón in Argentina, and Getúlio Vargas in Brazil), followed by so-called neo-populisms (Alberto Fujimori in Peru, Carlos Salinas de Gortari in Mexico, Fernando Collor de Melo in Brazil, and Carlos Menem in Argentina), and more recent populist figures of the 21st century, such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. There is even an entire subfield of studies devoted specifically to Latin American populism (Retamozo, 2017). Historically, media systems have played a key role in shaping Latin American populism. As Weyland (2001) argued about the region, “through television populist leaders reach[ed] their followers directly and establish[ed] quasi-personal contact with millions of people simultaneously. While radio played a similar role for classical populists, television [was] more powerful in projecting charismatic leadership” (p. 16). This chapter discusses the particular relationship between populism, media, and misinformation in Latin America. We envision populism as a “media and communication phenomenon” (Waisbord, 2019) and thus examine the role of social media platforms in shaping populism and issues of misinformation in the region. Our analysis proceeds in four steps.
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