President López Obrador declared his respect for two heads of state that are often short on friends during his morning news conference on Wednesday: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
López Obrador said the presidents of both countries should be treated on equal footing with the leader of their major rival, U.S. President Joe Biden. “I don’t categorize anyone. It is not the policy of Mexico to insult anyone or any foreign government. We have a lot of respect for the president of China, [the president] of Russia and President Biden of the United States,” he said.
López Obrador insisted that political neutrality was imperative to Mexico’s independence. “Mexico is respectful of all peoples and of all governments. It is not a colony of Russia or China or the United States. It is a free, independent, sovereign country with great pride,” he said.
On the ongoing war in Ukraine, initiated by Putin in February, the president condemned Russia’s invasion, but said it was for the leaders of both countries to secure peace. “We cannot be in favor of any invasion. We condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We condemn all invasions …What I want … is for an agreement be reached and for peace to be achieved so that people do not suffer, so that human lives are not lost … It’s a matter of [conflicts] being fixed from the top,” he said.
The Mexican government has refused to send arms to Ukraine to support its forces and has not joined other countries in imposing sanctions on Russia.
The government’s neutral stance on the war was not helped by the creation of the Mexico-Russia friendship group last Wednesday, established by a group of deputies from the ruling Morena party, the Labor Party (PT) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
More doubts were raised on Thursday when a high-ranking United States military official said that Russia had more spies in Mexico than any other country.
That said, the president’s wish for harmonious relations doesn’t seem to apply equally to all countries: “The elite in Spain have not behaved well with Mexico and with our people … they have abused and companies and banks have taken exaggerated profits from Mexico, and they have gotten into matters that only correspond to Mexicans. They have even done politics in Mexico,” López Obrador reiterated on Monday.
In 2019 the president sent a letter to the king of Spain and Pope Francis calling for them to apologize for the indignities suffered by the native peoples during the period of the Spanish conquest, which the government of Spain rejected outright.
López Obrador’s cool headed diplomacy was also superseded when the European Parliament approved a resolution criticizing the murders of journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico. The federal government responded by accusing European lawmakers of “corruption, lies and hypocrisy” and describing them as misinformed sheep following the lead of its adversaries.
With reports from Reforma