The Ukraine War, September 18, 2022: The fence-sitters in the South–Mexico

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) “Con strippers, cuidadores buscan levantar ánimos a ancianos de residencia en Vietnam (sic),” El Universal, el 13 de setiembre 2022 (13:41);

2) Andrew Court, “Nursing home hires stripper for seniors in wheelchairs: ‘We are very sorry,’” New Yotk Post, September 13, 2022 (updated 11:39am);

3) Ernesto Méndez, “Responde Ucrania a plan de paz de López Obrador; Mykhailo Podolyak, señaló que los “pacificadores” “que usan la guerra como tema para sus propias relaciones públicas sólo causan sorpresa,” Excelior, el 17 de setiembre 2022;

4) Beata Wojna, “Within a world of ambiguities: Mexico in the face of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Wilson Center, April 20, 2022.

Beata Wojna is Professor of International Relations, el (Instituto) Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico City)

Analysis

A friend recently spent a week in Mexico City, where he gave a talk and mingled with members of Mexico’s political elite. He reported that in Mexico no one was paying attention to or cared about the ongoing war in Ukraine. There was some coverage in the press, to be sure, but news about the war did not make the headlines.

I decided to check myself and took a look at a couple of Mexico’s leading newspapers. He was right. There is some coverage of the war but today, for example, it ranked behind other international stories, such as the story (with video) of a party at a retirment home for former military personnel in Taiwan where staffers brought in strippers to raise the spirits of the residents. Someone made a video, which went viral. It is reproduced in the digital edition of the newspaper, El Universal. which reported the following:

Revised Google translation

The Taoyuan Veterans Home, a state-run facility for retired military personnel in Taiwan, hired a stripper to put on a show at the venue, The New York Post reported. The event was held within the framework of the Mid-Autumn Festival, an important festival in Chinese culture, where people gather to give thanks for the rice and wheat harvests.

In the video, the dancer is shown wearing a mask and lace lingerie as she performs an erotic dance for a man in a wheelchair, bringing her breasts close to his face. The man, without shame, squeezes them, while the other older adults applaud enthusiastically and enjoy the show.

The center admitted that the stripper’s performance was “too enthusiastic and fiery.” The directors promised to be “more cautious” when planning this type of event.

In another paper, Excelsior, far down the list of articles in the digital edition, Méndez reports on the Ukranian response to a peace proposal made by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Méndez describes the proposal as follows:

In the ceremony prior to the military parade for the Independence of Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that his proposal to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a truce of “at least five years” so that countries can focus on attending to the social and economic problems that afflict them.

López Obrador proposed the integration of a dialogue and peace committee, made up of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Pope Francis representing the Vatican and António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN.

He said that his immediate mission would be to seek a ceasefire and start a dialogue between Presidents Zelensky and Putin.

Méndez reports on the Ukrainian response:

The main advisor to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenski, responded to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after the president of Mexico announced that he will present a world peace plan to the UN.

On his Twitter account, Mykhailo Podolyak noted that “peacemakers” who “use war as a theme for their own public relations only cause surprise.”

“@lopezobrador, is your plan to keep millions under occupation, increase the number of mass burials, and give Russia time to renew stockpiles before the next offensive? Then your ‘plan’ is a Russian plan,” he wrote.

This exchange reveals the total lack of seriousness with which fence-sitting countries like Mexico regard the war in Ukraine.

Wojna points out how the United States “has skirted around the Russian invasion in bilateral talks, in order to avoid ‘staining’ US-Mexico relations.” She relates:

In terms of the United States, it is important to notice how Mexico’s northern neighbor has skirted around the Russian invasion in bilateral talks, in order to avoid “staining” US-Mexico relations. It was surprising, even, to see President Biden talk of the tragedies of war and announce sanctions against Russia, all the while the US Ambassador to Mexico toured around different states, enjoying a warm Mexican welcome. The clear turning point came with the creation of the Mexico-Russia Group for Friendship [by López Obrador’s party, in Congress] which came as a bucket of cold water for the many who thought there were limits that would not be crossed….

The war is one of the issues in which there is simply no clear overlap between Mexico and the United States, but it is not the most important issue within the bilateral relationship. Most probably, the United States will keep trying to sideline the war in the bilateral agenda, prioritizing energy concerns. That being said, there will be indirect pressures to ensure Mexico does not become a bridge through which Russia can overcome sanctions; Canada will also play an important role in pressuring Mexico, as Trudeau has already attempted to include Mexico in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

In this one vignette of how the U.S. has not given priority to the Ukrainian issue in its bilateral relations with Mexico, we can glimpse the incompetence in the State Department that has led to a situation in which many countries in “the South” do not condemn the Russian invasion of and war crimes in Ukraine, and refuse to join the regime of sanctions against Russia.

In an existential struggle with Russia over the future of our civilization, the disastrous leadership at the State Department remains a huge handicap not only for the U.S. but also for the entire anti-Russian coalition.

The Trenchant Observer

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About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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