Monday, June 17, 2024

If any country could understand what Ukraine’s experiencing, it’s Mexico

Like most of the rest of the world these days, I’m fixated on Ukraine. And along with the rest of the world, I’ve been watching in disbelief as Russian President Vladimir Putin defied the warnings and threats of pretty much everyone except for China and North Korea and invaded a sovereign nation.

It’s not that I’m surprised that a power-hungry macho bully thinks it’s a good idea to take over another country; our human psychology might not ever fully catch up to our higher selves, after all. Dudes like that exist all over the world.

It’s that he’s totally getting away with doing it. Regular people – people like you and me, people like our kids and parents – are being driven from their homes and killed simply because a powerful leader decided that a place that isn’t his should belong to him anyway.

I’m still in disbelief, though I know that at this point, nothing should surprise me. After all, bad guys are getting away with exactly the same thing here in Mexico.

But this is giant, and it’s taking place on the world stage. Where are the grown-ups around here? Can’t someone tackle this guy and lock him in a room somewhere?

A Twitter post noting that these photos showing people fleeing their homes in fear for their lives aren’t from Kyiv but cartel-infested Jerez, Zacatecas.


Many countries are certainly trying, though they’re doing so economically. I wish I could say it was working, but the rich barbarian in charge doesn’t seem so far to be deterred, perfectly happy to let his people suffer for his vanity.

It’s like we’re trying to punish a kid who kills people by taking away his allowance, something that’s just not going to cut it.

Mexico is notably not one of the countries trying to punish Russia. Though Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, support for the Ukrainian people has mostly been symbolic.

And though Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Dramarétzka called on the Mexican government to boycott trade with Russia and support Ukraine with weapons and humanitarian aid, Mexico has declared its intention of nonintervention, making a point to let Russian tourists know they would be welcomed.

I’ve got nothing against the Russian people, who I suspect probably do not support their leader’s invasion of a sovereign nation, but it did seem to be quite a tone-deaf message to send in this particular moment.

AMLO even criticized the Russian state media’s suddenly limited reach on Twitter, saying that he was against censorship, citing “authoritarianism” as one of his concerns.

Well, that’s rich given his distaste for homegrown journalism and repeated suggestions to censor anyone critical to his government in a country that just witnessed its sixth murder of a journalist this year.

Still, Mexico has at least said that it will accept Ukrainian refugees. Algo es algo, I suppose.

It’s not that I’m surprised by Mexico’s position on a war halfway around the world. I suppose I just thought we’d collectively have more to say about it, considering Mexico’s been invaded plenty of times by other countries, as well.

And it’s true we’ve got other things on our plate, which includes very real invasions on the lives of citizens here within the country.

People are fleeing Ukraine because they’re being attacked by an outside army. People are fleeing communities here in Mexico because they’re being invaded by criminal groups from which the government has so far been unable to protect them.

Cartels are using military weapons and tactics against their fellow cartel enemies and regular citizens alike, so how much difference is there between what’s going on here and there, really? When it comes to the lives of ordinary people being affected, not much, I’d say.

The Mexican military has at least upped its firepower in certain areas, though AMLO’s policy of “hugs, not bullets” is still the official strategy. So if we’re simply allowing bad guys to invade communities in Mexico, I hardly see how we’d make any major moves to prevent or fight against the invasion of communities in a country on the other side of the world.

As former President Calderón has said, “Today, the national emergency is to recover the rule of law.”

President López Obrador wasn’t happy with what he had to say, of course, blaming his government for Mexico’s current problem with cartel violence. While he certainly has a point, I think it’s also fair to say that AMLO fought tooth and nail for the job of fixing it. So far, it seems that there have been many more complaints than solutions.

So far, of course, we’ve been unable to prevent invasions in Mexico or in Ukraine.

Might there be a strategy that actually works for all of us out there?

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, and her Patreon page.

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