Former US ambassador: Voters chose Biden to unite nation

Former US ambassador to TT John Estrada. -
Former US ambassador to TT John Estrada. -

FORMER US ambassador to TT John Estrada on Thursday evening expressed a quiet confidence that Democratic candidate Joe Biden would unseat President Donald Trump, in a closely fought election.

The latest count up to press time had Biden at 253 and Trump at 213 towards the 270 winning mark, but with neck-and-neck races in several significant States. These were Pennsylvania (20 electoral college votes), Georgia (16 votes), North Carolina (15 votes), Arizona (11 votes), Nevada (six votes) and Alaska (three votes.)

Newsday asked about the mood in the US, even as results continued to be tallied for each candidate, particularly mail-in votes some of which the Trump camp threatened legal action to limit.

“There is a lot of anxiety. But most people are very calm, just waiting on the results," Estrada said.

“There were a lot of surprises. Neither candidate thought it would be so close. The Biden supporters and the Trump supporters each thought they would run away with it. There are some anxieties and concerns.”

Newsday asked if he would stick out his neck and call a result.

“The first night (Tuesday) I stayed up until 3.15 am, then had to be up at 6 am.

“I am confident that vice president Joe Biden, the Biden-Harris ticket, will end up winning.”

Estrada was fully convinced Biden’s message was so positive it would resonate with most US citizens.

“It is one of unity, in a nation that is very badly fractured. I think Americans will respond to that message. Biden said he will be president for all, not just for red States (Republican) or blue (Democrat) States.

“He is leading in the popular vote and in the electoral vote, but some votes are still outstanding.”

Estrada said the US has had a system of mail-in votes for some time and most States could not count these until election day.

“There are 100 million mail-in ballots. That is a lot to count. It is a very tedious process. But the very last one of them needs to be counted.

“It is unbelievable to hear some folks say, ‘Stop the count.’”

He said many such votes were cast by military personnel posted overseas.

“Would you tell them you can go to fight for our country and die for us but you cannot vote?” Estrada mused.

He disclosed that he had been a big advocate for the Biden-Harris ticket, and had even done a couple of campaign adverts for Biden which the latter had signed off on by saying, “I approve this message.”

Estrada was confident in Biden’s message of unity and of restoring respect around the world for America.

“He talks about America engaging with the world rather than being isolationist. He will be a president for all Americans.

“That is not the message we hear from the other side (Trump camp) which just separates and divides us.”

Estrada said as a good citizen, he had felt an obligation to get involved in the campaign.

“I served in the US military around the world,” he said, “defending democracy and the right to vote.”

Estrada had left Laventille, Trinidad, at age 14 to live in the US where he became a US Marine Corps sergeant-major. In 2008 he endorsed then senator Barack Obama to be US president and then in 2013 Obama named him US ambassador to TT where he served until 2017.


"Former US ambassador: Voters chose Biden to unite nation"

More in this section