Wednesday, November 29, 2023

AMLO says Russian airlines welcome but minister’s Aeroflot tweet creates a stir

Mexico will not ban Russian airlines from flying to Mexico despite Russia’s decision to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine last week.

President López Obrador said Monday that airlines from all countries can fly into into Mexico.

“We’re not going to close the country. … Let it be known, we’re not going to close to any country,” he said.

Mexico has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but hasn’t imposed any sanctions.

López Obrador’s remarks at his regular news conference came after the European Union’s decision on Sunday to close its airspace to Russian airlines and other Russian-owned aircraft. They also followed Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco’s publication of a widely-condemned tweet inviting Russian flag carrier Aeroflot to fly into Mexico City.

Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco Marqués welcomed the Russian air carrier Aeroflot to Mexico in a since-deleted tweet.
Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco welcomed the Russian air carrier Aeroflot to Mexico in a since-deleted tweet. Daniel Schwen / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Warm greetings to our friends at the prestigious airline @aeroflot, hoping for prompt connectivity between nations and of course to Mexico City. I remind you that tourism is a synonym of peace, friendship and understanding between people,” Torruco wrote Saturday in a tweet he later deleted.

The tourism minister posted nine other tweets about Russian tourism to Mexico that remain on his Twitter account, noting that visitor numbers and spending were up last year compared to 2020, among other tidbits of information.

“The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine could represent a series of economic sanctions by the international community on the government of the Russian federation, which would cause the 2022 program of flights to be affected,” Torruco said in a final tweet on the subject.

Twitter users described his tweet to Aeroflot, and his Russian tourism-related posts more broadly, with unflattering descriptors such as “unfortunate,” “lacking empathy,” “stupid” and “inopportune.”

The European Union and Canada have banned Russian flights from entering their airspace but the United States remains open.

López Obrador also announced that a Mexican Air Force plane dispatched to Romania to pick up Mexicans who have fled Ukraine had touched down in Bucharest.

“The plane is there, it already has permission to be there a considerable time, and we’re going to continue with these kinds of actions. We’re obliged to bring our citizens home safe and sound,” he said.

López Obrador also indicated he would be willing to grant asylum to Ukrainians fleeing the violence in their homeland.

“Mexico is a … country that protects, that takes care of refugees, persecuted people, people seeking to save themselves from war and confrontations,” he said.

The president predicted that Russia’s full-blown assault on Ukraine – now in its fifth day – won’t have much of an impact on the Mexican economy.

“People shouldn’t worry about this invasion situation. … It’s very regrettable, yes. … We can’t be unaware [of it], we can’t turn our back, but the effects it might have on the national economy are minimal,” he said.

With reports from Reforma and Emeequis

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