"Russia In The World" is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This installment will deal with Russia's relations in Mexico and Colombia.
The original image was taken from Studiya 13's Facebook page.
U.S. Accuses Russia Of Meddling In Mexico's July 1 Presidential Elections
On February 2, 2018, while on a Latin American tour, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Mexico to look out for Russian meddling in the July 1 presidential elections.
Last December, Washington warned that it had detected signs of Russian interference in the Mexican presidential elections. "We can already see signs [of Russian intervention] in the Mexican presidential campaign" declared Herbert Raymond McMaster, Trump's national security adviser. However, the Mexican government rejected these warnings and insisted that "there is no evidence to support this hypothesis."
Nevertheless, the declarations by the US official raised some speculations in the direction of the leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who, in past elections and during a dirty campaign, had been associated with the Venezuelan Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro (both of whom expanded ties with Russia).
The Reuters agency, citing analysts, suggested that López Obrador is Russia's favorite, given the positive coverage that he received from Russian mouthpieces such as Sputnik and Russia Today.
The Mexican journalist León Krauze, in a column published in the daily El Universal, stressed that a U.S. Senate report analyzed Russia's strategy of influencing elections throughout the world, mainly in "vulnerable countries". "The electoral authorities and other players of Mexican public life, must henceforth keep their eyes wide open in order to detect traces of the methods described in detail, by the US Senate report" commented the journalist.
The Washington Post published an article, signed by Frida Ghitis, predicting that "if López Obrador wins, Putin will have a reason to smile with satisfaction. This is due to the fact that López Obrador would not be good news for the U.S."
"All of a sudden, Mexico is being pressed both by the US of president Trump and by Vladimir Putin's Russia, who have diverging interests but who, ironically, are both contributing to the same electoral result", stated Ghitis' article.
Following these remarks, López Obrador, the presidential candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), made light of them and said that from now on he should be called "Andresmanuelovich".
(Univision.com, January 27, 2018)
Russia Quadruples Its Investments In Mexico
The American Spanish-language media outlet Univision published an article, titled "Russia Quadruples Its Investments In Mexico At A Time When The U.S. Are Planning To Raise Walls" noting that Russia may meddle in the Mexican presidential elections and stressing that Russian investment in Mexico grew by more than 400% during the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's government.
Univision reported that during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN), the Russians allocated 14.4 million dollars to Mexico, a small amount compared to the capitals invested by other nations; however, these transactions marked an unprecedented rapprochement between the Kremlin and Los Pinos (the president's official residence).
Prior to EPN, Russian investments to Mexico were almost nonexistent and they passed unnoticed in the media. However, the Russia-Mexico relations gained particular relevance since the U.S. is threatening to exit the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) pushing the Mexican government to look for new trade partners worldwide.
These new investments do not begin to compare with the more than 10,000 million dollars that the U.S. annually invests in Mexico, but, undoubtedly, they broke a record in the relations between Los Pinos and the Kremlin. According to official figures under former president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), the Russians invested only 2.8 million dollars in Mexico and under former chief of state, Vicente Fox (2000-2006), a mere 800,000 dollars, although Fox had signed a trade promotion agreement with the Russian chief of state Vladimir Putin.
In spite of tensions with the U.S. Mexico-Russia trade relations matured, and bilateral trade rose from 579 million dollars in 2006, to 1,481 million dollars in 2016.
In 2012, Mexico had 52 enterprises with Russian investment capital; by the end of 2017 there were 79 such companies in diverse sectors such as aviation, energy, hotels, telecommunications, information technologies, according to Promexico, the governmental agency that promotes Mexican commerce abroad and which has an office in Moscow. Also present is the Russian state owned defense exporter Rosoboronexport, which supplied helicopters, airplanes and armored vehicles to the Mexican Armed Forces.
In summer 2016, when Trump strengthened his bid for the republican nomination, Russia invested 1.7 million dollars to buy pipes for the transport and storage of natural gas in 12 Mexican states, according to the Secretary of Economy. In 2017, Russian investments in pipelines grew fivefold, up to 9.8 million dollars.
By mid-2017, two contracts for oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico were secured by the Russian oil company Lukoil, which announced an investment of 50 million dollars during the following months.
Last November, officials of Lukoil and the Mexican state owned petroleum company, Pemex drafted an alliance for future business. Moscow stressed that its presence in the Mexican oil sector is unaffected by U.S. sanctions. The U.S. forbade its citizens to do business with Russian oil companies.
(Univision.com, January 27, 2018)
'AndresManuelovich' Goes Viral
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the presidential candidate of the Morena party, recently shared a video in the social networks mocking the rumors that Russia is supporting him. In the video, AMLO said that he should be called ‘Andresmanuelovich.’ The presidential candidate also joked, saying that he was waiting for a submarine to emerge from the sea carrying Russian gold. After the video, social network users started posting a series of 'memes' making fun of AMLO.
(Lanetanoticias.com, January 20, 2018)
Caption: "AMLOvsky receiving Russian support in Veracruz [Mexico]" (Source: Lanetanoticias.com)
Caption: "Andres Manuelovich" (Source: Lanetanoticias.com)
Meme of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Source: Lanetanoticias.com)
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Mexican newspaper Excélsior published on November 17, 2017, Mid.ru, November 17, 2017; Read full article
Accusations Of Russian Meddling In The Colombian Elections
Frank Mora, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere from 2009–2013 and is currently a Professor at Florida International University, said in an interview to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that Russia is trying to meddle in the Colombian presidential (May 27, 2018) and legislative elections (March 11, 2018). According to Mora, Russia is using social media to generate mistrust and confusion among the electorate.
(Eltiempo.com, January 21, 2018)
Commenting on Mora's accusations, Russia's Ambassador to Colombia Sergey Koshkin said: "They already accused us of many sins and of this also, they accused us of interference in the elections in the United States, where by the way we were so efficient that we won. We were accused of wanting to interfere in the Mexican elections and the Mexicans themselves, their official representatives, denied it outright, and all these accusations, including the latter about Colombia, had no basis or proof."
(Colombiareports.com, January 23, 2018)
Carlos Antonio Lozada, a candidate for the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, the political successor of the former guerilla fighter group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), dismissed any possibility of Russia's intervention in the Colombia elections.
Responding to Mora's statement, Lozada said: "I do not give any value to this type of declarations." Lozada also added that this issue is "part of the cloud of dust they intend to raise in order to confuse and ensnare" the electoral scenario in Colombia.
He added that when he heard about Mora's charges, the first thing that came to his mind was an old saying about a thief who shouts "stop the thief", since, according to him, if there was anyone who "intervened" in Columbia, that is precisely the government of the United States.
(Lavanguardia.com, January 24, 2018)
Carlos Antonio Lozada (Source: Caracol.com.co)