The slap must have hurt. It happens with those who arrive where they are least expected. Boom! With the whole hand open. It was like this: the Mexican president announced, days before the patriotic festivities, that he would speak about Ukraine and the entire press listened. With the festive solemnity of a military parade, the speech arrived last Friday: Andrés Manuel López Obrador proposed the creation of a UN committee made up of the president of India and the Vatican pope to start talks with the aim of reaching a truce in the war raging in Ukraine. It is for peace so that there is no more suffering and the world’s economies recover, assured the Mexican president.
And suddenly, the slap on Mexico’s face is heard around the world.
It came from Ukraine, on Saturday, straight to the face of López Obrador. “Is his plan to keep millions under occupation, increase the number of mass burials and give Russia time to renew reserves before the next offensive? So it’s a Russian plan,” Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelensky’s adviser, dropped like a bombshell.
After months of desolation, Ukrainian troops have in recent days recaptured 8,000 square kilometers of territory invaded by the Russians. Perhaps this was not the time for Mexico to suddenly want to end the war, just as Russia is starting to show signs of losses. It sure would be a way out for Putin, and the truce the President of Mexico is proposing would expire in five years, just enough time for Russia to plan its next invasion. Mexico’s proposal is music to Putin’s ears, and why wouldn’t it be, Mexico has been singing his song since the beginning of the war.
What had Zelensky not understood about the message that came from Mexico? Just in case, López Obrador republished the full speech on social networks, the battlefield used by both. The Mexican President reiterated that his commitment was to peace and nothing more than the peace and well-being of the peoples of the world.
But the Ukrainian had interpreted it very differently: “The peacemakers who use the war as a theme for their own public relations only cause surprise,” Podolyak attacked Mexico’s president on Twitter.
President López Obrador accused the great powers “of positioning themselves in the conflict only to serve their own interests”. However, that is exactly what Mexico has done. While the rest of the world united against Russia, including Europe when it was not in their interest and they are suffering, Mexico saw more benefits in cozying up to Putin, mainly trade advantages with Russian fertilizer that is desperately needed by farmers in Mexico. And Putin showing interest in arming Latin American countries with sophisticated weapons didn’t hurt. Ukraine cannot match the advantages for Mexico as Russia can, so the decision was made to remain ‘neutral’ in language but clearly supportive of Putin’s war in actions. Mexico is a master of playing both sides of the fence, even if it means choosing their own interest over standing up for democracy.
Mexico made clear where it stood from the start of Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation. Just two weeks after the invasion began, the President’s party in the senate created a caucus of Friends of Russia. And the political party’s youth organization published an open letter to Putin in support of his war.
Mexico’s pacification plan
López Obrador’s strategy involves integrating a dialogue table between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which Pope Francis, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and UN Secretary-General António will serve as mediators.
According to Mexico’s president, the discussion will end in the immediate cessation of hostilities between the two nations. In addition to proposing the “commitment of all countries to avoid confrontations and not intervene in internal conflicts”, for the next five years in order to “create an environment of peace and tranquility” throughout the planet. Or as Ukraine sees it, time for Russia to rearm, regroup, and launch a new war in five years with the lessons they have learned.
The proposal will be presented through the Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, before the UN General Assembly, which began on September 13, 2022, and in which senior officials and heads of state meet.
The general debate, where Mexico’s proposal will be discussed, is held from Tuesday, September 20 to Saturday, September 24, and Monday, September 26, 2022, at the headquarters in New York, USA.
Among the most anticipated speeches of the assembly are the presidents of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelenski; from the United States, Joe Biden; from Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the new leaders of the Latin American left. However, the absence of two key leaders will also stand out: the Russian, Vladimir Putin, and the Chinese, Xi Jinping.
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