Ukrainian Ambassador to Mexico Loses Plot After Russian Military Takes Part in Mexico’s Independence Day Parade

Other countries that took part include China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Brazil. Conspicuously absent was any country from NATO, including Mexico’s USMCA trade partners, the US and Canada.

Oksana Dramaretska, Ukraine´s ambassador to Mexico, posted a tweet (featured below) on Saturday (Sept 16) lambasting Mexico’s government for allowing a small Russian military contingent to participate in Mexico’s Independence Day parade. In it, she wrote:

The military-civilian parade in Mexico, sullied by the participation of a Russian regiment. The boots and hands of war criminals are stained with blood.

She then asked Mexico´s President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador, or AMLO as he is popularly known:

How coherent is this, Mr. Lopéz Obrador, with your policy of neutrality and condemnation of aggression against my country?

Another Undiplomatic Diplomat

Dramaretska’s comments were widely endorsed and echoed by many of Mexico’s corporate media outlets and opposition parties. Yet this is not the first time that a contingent of an occupying foreign army has participated in Mexico’s Independence Day parade. In 2014, when Enrique Peña Nieto was president, a US regiment took part in the parade. At the time, the US armed forces were occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, were (and still are) bombarding Syria and,  together with NATO, had just laid waste to Libya. As Hilary Clinton put it, “we came, we saw, he [Gaddafi] died.” Yet not a whimper of protest in the Mexican media.

Also widely ignored, including by the aptly named Dramaretska, is the fact that it is traditional practice for Mexican governments, not just this one, to send out invites to its Independence Day parade to all national governments with whom Mexico has diplomatic ties. It is up to each government whether it chooses to accept. As Cesar Gutiérrez Priego, a lawyer specialised in criminal, military and national security law, said in response to Dramaretska’s tweet, “surely you are aware that our country extends an invitation to all of the countries with whom it maintains diplomatic relations.”

This is not the first time that Dramaretska’s embassy has caused offence in Mexico. In the first few days of the Ukraine conflict, a Mexican journalist pointed out in a tweet exchange with the embassy that Kiev was censoring the media, to which the embassy responded:

… [You] continue to defend Russian propaganda without ever having visited Ukraine. So we have a question for you, Mr. Journalist: do you get paid in rubles or in tamales?

Tamales are a pre-Colombian dish consisting of corn husks or plantain leaves stuffed with tasty fillings such as meats, cheeses, chiles or vegetables. While delicious and devoured by most Mexicans today, they were traditionally seen as food for the lower, often indigenous classes. As such, the tweet had both classist and racist connotations and was hastily deleted by the embassy. But before then, it was preserved for posterity on Tweetstamp and quickly went viral.

Following her comments on the military parade, the Mexican geopolitical analyst Alfredo Jalife said the government should expel Dramaretska for “meddling in the country´s internal affairs.” She cannot, he said, “tell us who the Mexican army can and cannot associate with.”

For his part, AMLO shrugged off Dramaretska’s remarks in his regular press conference on Monday morning, insisting that it is customary to invite all countries to the parade, including Russia:

“In this parade, contingents from Russia marched, paraded. It caused a scandal. This caught my attention because a contingent from China also participated [in the event] and there was a lot less noise; it was all about Russia. All the governments with which Mexico has diplomatic relations were invited, as is always the case.”

More Embarrassment for the Collective West

The AMLO government refuses to abandon its largely neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, despite sustained pressure from the US and periodic hissy fits from Kiev. The incident provides yet more evidence of the collective West’s abject failure to isolate Russia from the rest of the world. It is particularly embarrassing for Washington since Mexico and the US are both each other’s largest trading partner and share the world’s busiest border.

Regarding Russia’s participation in the parade the US has so far kept stum, at least in public. Last December, on the occasion of the bicentennial of US-Mexico diplomatic relations, former US Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobsen told Bloomberg-affiliated El Financiero:

I think there is some frustration with some Mexican positions. It is frustrating that Mexico does not pronounce itself in favor of [Ukrainian] sovereignty, as many countries in the world have done, not only the United States.

In October 2022, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said there is no room for neutrality when talking about countries that annex parts of others, which is kind of ironic given the US and Mexico’s shared history. In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, which ended the “war” between the two countries, the US annexed a whopping 55% of Mexico’s territory, including the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming. Mexico was also stripped of all claims to Texas.

As mentioned in previous posts, Mexico has a long, albeit interrupted, history of neutrality dating all the way back to the early 1930s:

In 1939, a neutrality clause was even added to its constitution by the government of then-President Lazaro Cardenas, which also nationalized Mexico’s oil and gas a year earlier. Since then Mexico has enjoyed close relations with many countries that have been targeted by international sanctions, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Mexico’s long-held position of neutrality has also made it a haven for people seeking political asylum, including republicans fleeing Spain at the end of the Spanish Civil War and the emigres of the Southern Cone dictatorships of the 1960s and ’70s.

On the question of Ukraine, Mexico, like most countries, initially condemned Russia’s invasion at the UN General Assembly. But like most countries in Latin America, including Brazil (under both Bolsonaro and Lula) and Argentina, it has refused to endorse the US-EU’s (largely self-) destructive sanctions on Russia. AMLO has also repeatedly criticised NATO’s role in the conflict, arguing in June 2022 that the Ukrainian allies’ policy was equivalent to saying “I’ll supply the weapons, and you supply the dead.”

At last year’s 2022 Independence Day celebrations, he proposed the formation of “a commission for dialogue and peace” to seek an “immediate cessation of hostilities.” The commission would be lead by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pope Francis, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The proposal was slammed by Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to President Zelenskyy, as pro-Russian since it would “keep millions under occupation, increase the number of mass burials and give Russia time to renew reserves before the next offensive.” It was also roundly ignored by NATO members.

Undeterred, AMLO in late July reiterated his calls for an end to the “irrational war” in Ukraine which, he said, benefits no one except the “war industry”. Days earlier, Mexico was among a host of Latin American governments that refused to bow to EU demands to include even a “bland” statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the final declaration of the EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit, held in Brussels. Mexico was also one of five Latin American countries (the others being Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Peru) that categorically rejected US and EU requests to send weapons to Ukraine.

The Full Guest List: China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Brazil…

Russia was one of 19 countries to participate in Mexico’s Independence Day parade. Most of them were from Latin America, with governments of all political bents. But also present was a contingent of soldiers belonging to Washington’s arch strategic rival, China, as well as Latin America’s axis of evil, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, all currently on the sharp end of US sanctions and blockades.

Here is a full list of the participants:

  • Belize
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Russia
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Korea
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Notably absent is any country from NATO, including Mexico’s USMCA trade partners, the US and Canada. By contrast, in the 2021 Independence Day parade the participants included Italy, the United Kingdom and France. The US has also taken part in the parade on a number of occasions, including most recently in 2014.

On the day of this year’s parade, the Russian Embassy published the following tweet announcing the 154th Preobrazhenskiy Regiment’s participation the parade. My translation:

The Preobrazhenskiy Regiment is one of the most famous regiments of the Russian military. It was created in 1691 during the reign of Peter the Great.

It is an honour to participate in such an important event for the Mexican people.

Long live the friendship between Mexico and Russia!

¡Viva México!

Standing in the way of deepening “friendship” between Russia and Mexico, or at least trying to, is Washington. In the first month of the Ukraine conflict, the US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, told Mexican lawmakers to forget about forging close relations with Russia. From my article at the time, US-Mexico Relations Hit New Low Over Russia-Ukraine Conflict:

The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico caused a stir at the tail end of last week when he told Mexican lawmakers that Mexico cannot ever be close to Russia. That is quite literally what Ambassador Ken Salazar’s said in his address to select members of Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Thursday (translated by yours truly):

“I have here (he said while indicating lapels on his jacket breast) the flags of Mexico, the United States and Ukraine. We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia.

The Russian ambassador was here yesterday making a lot of noise about how Mexico and Russia are so close. This, sorry, can never happen. It can never happen…

I remember very well that during the Second World War there was no distance between Mexico and the United States, both were united against what Hitler was doing…

When a family is attacked, the family comes together…Between Mexico and the United States there can be no difference, we have to be the same.” (…)

Salazar’s comments are controversial for a whole slew of reasons. First, Mexico is a sovereign nation and as such should be able to choose which countries it wants to forge close ties with, even if they are the target of U.S. sanctions.

Second, the hypocrisy stinks. The U.S. and its European allies have consistently argued that Russia has absolutely no right to try to determine what happens within the borders of its sovereign neighbor Ukraine, even as tons of weapons poured into the country from NATO Member States such as Poland and the Czech Republic to be used against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Donbass. Yet the US Government, through its ambassador to Mexico, is now trying to literally dictate the terms of Mexico’s relationship with Russia.

What the U.S. essentially seems to be saying is that neutrality is not an option in the escalating conflict between Russia and the West — at least not for Mexico.

Mexico Rejoins G77+ 

Now, briefly on to China. Below is the short message, in Spanish, tweeted by the Chinese Embassy in Mexico on the day of the parade. It reads:

“A day of honour and happiness. We are going to keep strengthening relations between China and Mexico.”

Mexico may have overtaken China (and Canada) as the US’s top trade partner, but China’s trade with and investment in Mexico is also rapidly expanding, in part due to the legions of Chinese companies looking to take advantage of the US’ nearshoring strategy. As I reported in May, while China accounts for only a small fraction of Mexico’s total FDI, it has significantly expanded its portfolio in recent years and is the fastest growing source of foreign investment in Mexico.

Mexico’s relations with China, and the so-called “Global South” (apologies), could be set to intensify. While soldiers were parading in downtown Mexico City on Saturday, delegates of more than 100 emerging and developing economies were gathering in downtown Havana, just 368 kilometers from Miami, for the annual Southern Summit of the Group of 77+China, the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the United Nations. Those delegates included Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Barcena, who on Friday had announced her country’s interest in rejoining the intergovernmental institution.

Mexico’s goal, she said, is to contribute to “shaping a new world,” promoting South-South cooperation, and fight economic and social asymmetries in the world. She also underscored the fundamental role that mechanisms such as the G77+China play in promoting both peace, rather than war, and development.

A loose alliance of states, the G77 was created in 1964 by 77 countries, but its membership roll has since swollen to 134. Together, those countries represent 80% of the global population.

Mexico, a founding member of the G77, left the organisation in 1994 following its accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Coincidence or not, 1994 was also the year NAFTA came into effect. On Saturday, 29 years later, the 134 countries taking part in the Group of 77+China Summit, including of course China, unanimously approved Mexico’s reincorporation into its ranks.

The move comes almost exactly a month after AMLO nipped in the bud rumours that Mexico was thinking of joining the BRICS. Those rumours were first stoked by South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, who in March claimed to have received letters from 12 countries interested in joining the grouping, including Mexico.

As I noted at the time, “it is hard to imagine Mexico, long part of the North American free trade bloc NAFTA, now supplanted by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreement, taking such a bold step — even as tensions rise between parts of the Biden Administration and Mexico’s AMLO government.” There is just too much at stake. Mexico joining the BRICS would be a direct affront to US power and prestige, and Mexico’s economy is now so intertwined with the US’ (and to a lesser extent Canada’s) that any decoupling is almost unthinkable.

In early August, AMLO said:

“We are not going to participate in this bloc, in this association. Of course, we welcome the fact that other countries are doing so. However, for economic, neighborhood, and geopolitical reasons, we will continue to strengthen the North American alliance and all of America”.

AMLO may believe that Mexico’s future is inexorably tied to its North American trade partners, the US and Canada, but he is also determined to maintain strong relations with both Russia and China as well as chart an independent path on key foreign policy issues. And that is likely to remain a source of friction in Mexico’s relations with Washington, at least until AMLO’s departure in just over a year’s time.

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  1. furnace

    “In October 2022, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said there is no room for neutrality when talking about countries that annex parts of others, which is kind of ironic given the US and Mexico’s shared history.”

    Preach. Why is it that whenever a US official says anything, 9 times out of 10 it’s just plain projection? Must be annoying to be stuck inside their own heads all the time.

  2. The Rev Kev

    It’s so strange to see how upset Washington is at the sight of Russian solders near their borders. True, there was only about a squad of them and the distance from where they were marching to the US border is a pretty hefty 9 hour drive. A confident power would ignore or even shrug off something like this and yet they are going into their George Bush ‘you-are-with-us-or-against-us’ mode. I guess that Mexico is not acting as a vassal state like they are supposed to. Thing is, the US saw no problem with holding a US military tank parade only about 300 yards from the Russian border several years ago.

    But as this war winds down, you may see a trend arising in the US where any country that stayed neutral and did not slavishly send weapons and money to the Ukraine will be seen as a cause of the defeat of the Ukraine. That it was all their fault and they must be punished for making the Ukraine lose. Of course this is a demented version of the actual reality of the situation but in Washington these days it is all a non stop drama session and somebody has to wear the blame for this disaster and it sure won’t be them.

    1. Mikel

      A good sized military unit could easily come across the southern border.
      Do it slowly, over time, no uniforms.
      They could buy pretty good automatic and semi–automatic weapons once they got here.

  3. Lex

    When the US abandons Ukraine, its diplomatic behavior over the last 18 months is going to cost dearly. It’s one thing to insult literally everyone when you’re standing behind the global bully and another to deal with the fallout when you stand alone.

    And the US will abandon Ukraine because it always abandons its proxies. Israel is the exception that proves the rule but Israel has domestic political power in the US that can’t be replicated by any other nation.

  4. Susan the other

    Mexico’s neutrality is the model Ukraine should have followed. It would be good if AMLO’s term were not up next year because his diplomacy is very skillful. We are being so outmaneuvered by multilateralism that Blinkie is going to have to go to Spain and declare war on peace. It’s a little disconcerting to watch how Blinkie’s image is being polished these days. Makes me wonder if he is being groomed to run for president. What a sickening thought…. Or maybe just vice president. Biden will dump Harris the toad and embrace Blinkie the lizard.

    1. digi_owl

      Could never have worked out, as the Kiev and Lviv “elite” wanted oh so badly to be part of the EU clique while the south and east was doing a roaring trade with Russia.

  5. Irrational

    Thank you, Nick, for this delicious piece of writing. I knew the US annexed Mexican territory, but not that it was 55%. Pot kettle black much? If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny.

  6. Tom Stone

    US diplomats are arrogant and Stupid or arrogant and deranged.
    Good for AMLO and the poorly named “Global South” for resisting the Globalists who are doing their best to eliminate all life on Earth.
    The pretense the USA is in any way trustworthy or obedient to any Rule of Law at home or abroad has been abandoned.

  7. Skinner_Was_Right

    The Mexican-American War is an obvious layer of irony here, but an even more strikingly hypocritical layer is the Zimmermann Telegram: Germany’s proposal for military assistance to Mexico in recovering its annexed northern territories (in the midst of multiple active hostile US military incursions into Mexico) is an obvious precedent for US military aid to Ukraine in recovering Crimea and the Donbas, and on its face, Russia has at least as much right to treat the fulfilled US proposal as a provocation as the US ever had with regards to the unfulfilled German one.

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