AMLO’s “Mexico First” Ukraine Policy
The Russian-Ukraine War is affecting Mexico more than one might think. And just as they do with the United States, Mexican leaders are looking for their interests by combining Mexico's nonintervention doctrine with a Mexico First policy not only on trade but also for Mexicans in Ukraine.
On March 2, Mexico, with the U.S. and 139 other nations, voted to condemn the Russian invasion in the United Nations General Assembly [U.N. General Assembly in historic vote denounces Russia over Ukraine invasion, by Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Landay, Reuters, March 2, 2022].
México 🇲🇽 junto con otros 140 países aprueban resolución histórica sobre la agresión en Ucrania 🇺🇦 en la ONU 🇺🇳. Hubo 5 votos en contra (Rusia, Corea del Norte, Siria, Belarús, Eritrea) y 35 abstenciones. pic.twitter.com/Yqs7dXIols— Misión de México ONU (@MexOnu) March 2, 2022
But when it came to jumping on the sanctions-against-Russia bandwagon, Mexico said no.
Mexico’s vibrant trade with the two countries in calendar 2021 is likely the reason [Fertilizantes y autos dominan en comercio de México con Rusia y Ucrania (“Fertilizers and autos dominate Mexico’s grade with Russia and Ukraine”), by Roberto Morales, El Economista, February 25, 2022]:
February 25, 2022
“We do not consider that is our role and we think that the best thing is to promote dialogue to achieve peace,” Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) explained [Versión estenográfica. Conferencia de prensa del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador del 1 de marzo de 2022 (“Stenographic Version. Press Conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of March 1, 2022”), Gob.mex, March 1, 2022].
Elaborating, he said Mexico isn’t interested in discord, won’t “take any reprisal of an economic type,” and wants “good relations with all the governments of the world.”
Nor, in the name of free speech, will he censor Russian media:
I do not agree with censorship of media. I opposed that when they canceled the account on social networks of President Trump, as I am not in agreement with censoring Russian media nor that of any country. We have to value liberty. …
[W]e can’t be talking about freedom and at the same time limiting freedom of expression.
Some American politicians could learn from AMLO.
Later, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that Mexico would only put sanctions on Russia if the UN Security Council would apply them, an unlikely event because Russia is on the council and has veto power [Versión estenográfica. Conferencia de prensa del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador del 4 de marzo de 2022 (“Stenographic version. Press conference by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on March 4, 2022), Gob.mx, March 2, 2022].
So Mexico’s trade and noninterventionism policies mesh well.
Those policies didn’t stop Ukraine’s ambassador to Mexico, Oksana Dramaretska, from delivering a letter to ask the Mexican Congress to send arms [Congresistas ucranianos piden armas a México (“Ukrainian Congressmen Request Arms from Mexico”), by Rolando Ramos, El Economista, March 4, 2022).
The letter requested “anti-tank guided missiles, FIM-92 Stingers, small arms, grenade launchers and other ammunition (modern and Soviet origin), all kinds of communication apparatuses, principally portable military radio apparatuses, ballistic vests and helmets.”
What a wish list!
The letter also asked Mexico to lobby Europe for combat aircraft:
We also implore you to communicate with your European partners to deliver some of the combat planes they have to Ukraine. If they could provide any other type of military and humanitarian assistance, we would be grateful. There is no time to wait. Every second is important.
Mexico said no.
“We do not seek an arms race, which is not in the interests of anyone,” said Olga Sanchez Cordero, president of the Senate [No mandamos armas a ningún lado,” responde AMLO a legisladores ucranianos (“‘We do not send arms anywhere,’” responds AMLO to legislators), Expansion Política, March 4, 2022].
As President AMLO put it in his press conference the next day: “[W]e do not send arms anywhere. We are pacifists” [Versión estenográfica. Conferencia de prensa del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador del 4 de marzo de 2022 (“Stenographic Version. Press Conference of the President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of March 4, 2022”), Gob.mx, March 4, 2022].
N.J.’s Senator Menendez Miffed With Mexico
Mexico’s reluctance to get on the anti-Russian bandwagon troubled Treason Lobby Senator Bob Menendez of the U.S. Senate.
In a Spanish-language interview with a Colombian news outlet, the Cuban-American senator from New Jersey said the Mexican government was wrong not to sanction Russia. Mexico “is siding with the oppressor, that is Russia and Putin,” he said [México se está poniendo del lado de Rusia: Bob Menéndez (“Mexico is Siding with Russia: Bob Menendez”), 24 Horas, March 4, 2022].
Strong words, and not unnoticed in Mexico.
On March 4, Olga Sanchez Cordero, president of the Mexican Senate, tweeted a long thread to say that Mexico opposed the invasion, voted to condemn it in the UN, but that Mexico prefers humanitarian aid to “sanctions which can cause great damage to civilian populations.”
Como Presidenta de la Mesa Directiva del @senadomexicano considero necesario hacer algunas precisiones sobre los comentarios y la percepción incorrecta del @SenatorMenendez, respecto a la posición de nuestro país frente al conflicto entre Rusia-Ucrania.— Olga Sánchez Cordero (@M_OlgaSCordero) March 4, 2022
Mexican Rescue Flight From Ukraine
On March 4, an Mexican Air Force transport plane arrived in Mexico City with 81 Mexicans who fled Ukraine and were flown out from Romania [Avión de la Fuerza Aérea Mexicana arribó a México con 81 personas evacuadas de Ucrania: Ebrard (“Mexican Air Force Plane Arrives in Mexico with 81 Evacuees from Ukraine: Ebrard”), Gob.mx, March 4, 2022].
The group included “44 Mexicans and their family members, among them 28 Ukrainians and an Australian, plus 7 Ecuadorians and a Peruvian” [Nosotros no mandamos armas a ningún lado: López Obrador sobre solicitud de ucranianos (“We do not send weapons anywhere: López Obrador on the request of Ukrainians”), Reuters/AFP, March 4, 2022].
Unsurprisingly, Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s canny and publicity-conscious foreign minister, used Twitter publicize the operation:
Autobús saliendo de Ivano-Frankivsk rumbo a Rumania con mexican@s apoyados por el protocolo de protección a cargo de nuestras embajadas en Ucrania y Rumania. Fue toda una negociación que no les cancelara el propietario del autobús,lo lograron. Bien hecho!!! pic.twitter.com/W2PxrGf9fH— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) February 25, 2022
Llegaron a casa, bienvenid@s!!! pic.twitter.com/V5obxYRv5D— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) March 4, 2022
So the Mexican Foreign Ministry rescued its people from Ukraine. Isn’t that what foreign ministries are for?
On March 7, Ebrard went to Los Angeles, California, where he had a very busy schedule [Tras visita de trabajo, secretario de Relaciones Exteriores reafirma vínculo especial entre México y Los Ángeles (“After Working Visit, Secretary of Foreign Relation Reaffirms Special Link Between Mexico and Los Angeles”), Gob.mx, March 8, 2022].
Ebrard, the Foreign Ministry reported, “held meetings with public officials, male entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs, leaders of the Mexican community, workers at the Sabores Oaxaqueños restaurant and Mexican consuls of the region.” He also met with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
The junket also included Jose Horacio Gomez, the Treason Lobby archbishop of Los Angeles, “defender of the rights of the migrants and the first Hispanic to be president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
In addition, Ebrard “met with members of the bilateral Mexico-Los Angeles working group,” which included L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti. Ebrard thanked the mayor “for his work and commitment to the migrant community throughout his administration.”
Garcetti offered this telling statement: “Los Angeles is a Mexican City, we share not only history, but a future together.”
And here we naively thought Los Angeles was an American city!
In a meeting with “community leaders” that included Marcela Celorio, Mexico’s general consul in the city, and Luis Gutierrez Reyes, head of the foreign ministry’s Mexico Abroad department, Ebrard “repeated Mexico’s commitment to look after the interests of the Mexican community in the United States, and to continue with improvement of the service and consular attention.”
The takeaway: Ebrard and the foreign ministry took just as much care—and equally as impressively—in navigating the shoals of the Russia-Ukraine War, and evacuating Mexican citizens from Ukraine, as it does in meddling with U.S. immigration policy.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; his US Inc blog items are here, and his website is here.