After the victory of the candidate of the left-wing forces Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the presidential election, more and more political analysts began to talk about a new stage of Russian-Mexican relations. Such sentiments could not affect the administration of Donald Trump. According to political analysts, the most important presidential elections in Mexico in modern history will change not only the internal course and the situation in the region, but will also encourage the Latin American country to fully diversify its international partners. The new Mexican leader will take office on January 1, 2019. What place will Russia occupy in the foreign policy guidelines of the Obrador government? What should be wary of the current main partner of Mexico?
The team «LAСRUS» decided to analyze the Russian vector of the foreign policy of the Latin American state and to identify the main mechanisms of interaction between Russia and Mexico. Today, the Russian side maintains “warm” relations with Mexico, which include trade, investment in the development of advanced technologies and increasingly close cooperation in such international organizations and associations as the United Nations, the G20 and the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation (APEC). As the new Mexican leader has repeatedly pointed out during the election race, this is only the beginning of the future “strong” union.
Russia and Mexico maintain very long bilateral relations, which have been in existence for more than one century. However, as many representatives of the Latin American Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia believe, these ties were mostly superficial and symbolic, but with time they deepen more and more as the two countries have more and more common points and common interests every year. Official ties between Russia and Mexico were established in 1890. The following year, by order of Alexander III, a Russian representative office was opened in the capital of Mexico City. During the period of the XX century revolutions (in Mexico – in 1910 and 1920, in Russia – in 1917) bilateral relations were practically not maintained. However, this degree of interaction changed in August of 1924, when Mexico became the first state of both Americas to be recognized by the Soviet Union. An interesting fact is that the USSR in 1926 sent the first female ambassador to the world (Aleksandra Kolontái) to work in Mexico. But in 1930, diplomatic relations were severed due to ideological differences. In 1936, León Trotski, who left his homeland, went to Mexico, where he was granted asylum. Four years later, he was killed: the defense of the Mexican authorities could not save him from the “murdered” by the NKVD killer. Mexico entered to the World War II on the Allied side in 1942. Thus, the Latin American state again became a partner of Moscow, the diplomatic relations were restored.
Due to the proximity and immediate land border with the United States, and also because of the left orientation of the ruling Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party during the Cold War, Mexico was an important geostrategic partner for the USSR. In 1973, the President of Mexico, Luis Echeverría Álvarez, became the first Mexican and non-Communist president to make an official visit to the USSR. In 1978, during the official visit of President José López Portillo, the two states signed the Treaty “On the prohibition of the testing, use, production and purchase of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
After the collapse of the USSR, the United Mexican States continued diplomatic relations with an independent Russian Federation. Since then, and to the present, the two states have been slowly but surely following the path of deepening cooperation. Today, Mexico is Russia’s third largest partner in Latin America. In the past 2017, trade between the two countries reached $ 1.7 billion. Mexicans export to Russia, first of all: tequila, beer, beef and cars. Russian exports include products of the chemical industry, metallurgy, helicopter industry, the military industrial complex. Russian international companies such as “Power Machines”, operate in Mexico, and a number of Mexican transnational corporations: “Grupo Omnilife”, “Grupo Maseca”, “Nemak”, “Cemex”, “Mabe”, “Katcon”, “Metalsa” and “Gruma” do business in Russia. As of 2018, Mexico ranks 42nd in the list of the largest Russian trading partners and accounts for 1% of the country’s total exports. In the similar Mexican list, Russia is on the 44th position. Such data demonstrate that the volume of trade between Mexico and Russia is still very modest, considering that, for example, the trade turnover between Mexico and the United States exceeds $ 600 billion a year. However, in their statements the new Mexican leader of the “left” camp repeatedly noted his intention to increase the trade turnover between Russia and Mexico and reduce such “close” cooperation with the United States.
One of the most interesting indicators is that Mexico and Russia are almost identical in terms of population: about 146 million Russians and 127 million Mexicans. In addition, the two countries are very similar in size to nominal GDP. According to official data from the IMF, in 2017 the Russian economy became the 12th in the world with a half trillion dollars, and the Mexican economy took the 15th position with 1.1 trillion dollars. In terms of GDP per capita, Russia was on the 63rd place in the world with $ 10,508 per capita, and Mexico – the 70th with $ 9,304 per capita. Nevertheless, as financial analysts note, the Mexican economy is diversified, which can prove a wide range of trade exchanges. In turn, Russia is still based on the export of natural resources.
Despite the fact that the trade exchange between the two countries is not so significant, Russia and Mexico recognize the important advantages of their union. The “sharp” conflicts between Russia and the Trump administration, and now the White House’s outright hostility towards Mexico and its new leader from the “left” wing, opened up many opportunities to strengthen the strategic alliance between Moscow and Mexico City. Judging by how much attention the Russian media are paying to the elected president of Mexico, Moscow sees a potential ally in López Obrador primarily because of his anti-American views. This alignment of forces is seen by many political analysts as very natural. The harsh and hostile stance that Trump has taken on Mexico since the first day of his presidency, bilateral ties of the once main trading partners are crumbling, and the elected Mexican government intends to look for new alternatives.
Thus, Russia will be able to become a major trading partner of Mexico. The Russian Foreign Ministry has already noted the readiness of the Russian side to supply energy resources to the Latin American state, as well as to offer its advanced technologies and methods in the production of artificial fertilizers in other industrial fields, such as oil production and refining. It is worth recalling that Mexico is still wary of China, which makes Russia extremely attractive for those who next year will “create” Mexican politics.
After the US and the EU imposed sanctions and thereby “slammed the door” to Russia, the Russian government has already appealed to other international actors. That is why Mexico, the second largest country in Latin America, is very attractive for Russia. As many experts believe, Mexico can become a key Russian partner in the Western Hemisphere at the border with the United States. Mutual interests can help expand and strengthen ties between the two states. However, the White House is already aware that in this alignment of forces, the only loser will be Washington. But regardless of the United States, with the arrival of López Obrador, the Russian-Mexican relations should move to a higher level, and thus once again confirm the multipolarity of international relations.