Saturday, June 15, 2024

US lawmaker wants to deny visas to politicians behind Russia friendship group

A United States lawmaker has called on the U.S. government to revoke the visas of Mexican deputies who joined a Mexico-Russia friendship group last month, triggering a blunt response from President López Obrador.

U.S. Representative Vicente González wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to request visa revocations for deputies who joined the friendship group, which was formally established in the lower house of Congress on March 23, just under a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

“In recent days and in the midst of an international crisis in Eastern Europe, several legislators from Mexico’s federal Congress (Chamber of Deputies) took this opportunity to shun the free world and stand with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by forming a Mexico-Russia Friendship Committee. The timing of this committee sent a clear message to the United States and the free world,” the Democratic Party lawmaker wrote in an April 4 letter.

“… In light of Russia’s illegal aggression towards Ukraine, I call upon you to stand with Ukraine and condemn this ‘friendship committee’ by issuing visa revocations for all Mexican members of Congress that have participated in this deplorable assembly,” González wrote.

“If these individuals refuse to condemn Russia, and instead choose to stand with tyranny, they should not be allowed the privilege of entering, traveling or investing in the United States of America.”

The representative for Texas’s 15th congressional district provided Blinken and Mayorkas with a list of 25 deputies he said had joined the Mexico-Russia friendship group, most of whom represent the ruling Morena party and its ally the Labor Party.

López Obrador on Wednesday made it clear he didn’t agree with the U.S. lawmaker, describing his proposal as “prehistoric” and asserting that he made it to to help his chances of reelection at midterm elections later this year.

“I don’t believe it’s fair and I don’t believe it’s rational to want to suspend the visas of those who gathered to express their points of view with respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

“… There is now a campaign asking that they not be allowed to enter the United States. That’s a return to the Cold War, to the times of persecution and exclusion and authoritarianism,” López Obrador told reporters.

“I don’t agree with that,” he said, noting that he also didn’t agree with Twitter blocking the account of former United States president Donald Trump in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.

“That goes against freedom. …  What will happen to the Statue of Liberty in New York – it will turn green from anger,” López Obrador said, adding that if lawmakers’ U.S. visas are revoked the government will send a diplomatic note in protest.

Asked whether he endorsed the Mexico-Russia friendship group, AMLO didn’t give a direct response, simply saying that “we’re free.”

He then highlighted a Twitter post by airline Volaris, in which it said it respected diversity of opinion and acknowledged the existence of different ideologies.

“An applause for Volaris,” López Obrador said, before clapping his hands and flashing a broad grin.

“… How can we talk about freedom and threaten to limit freedom? And why position ourselves like judges to decide what’s right and what’s wrong?” he asked. “Why don’t we allow people to express themselves?”

Mexico News Daily

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