Sylvia, a Mexican in Ukraine: “I’m more frightened by the news my relatives send me”

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Instagram Silvia Mercado

Two Mexicans living in Ukraine recount how they continue their routine despite the conflict that is intensifying on the border with Russia. Both rejected the possibility of being evacuated by the Mexican Embassy in Kyiv.

The United States and other NATO countries have issued urgent alerts about a potential Russian invasion, hoping to deter Vladimir Putin by exposing his plans to him, while trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution.

In the cell phone of the Mexican Antonio Quesada, there is a map saved with coordinates where some safe havens are located in the event of a possible military attack. The basement of his building created during the Soviet Union era, with walls up to 50 centimeters wide, is one of these “bunkers”.

He lives in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a country that faces tension with Russia that seems to be fueled on the international board to become a warlike conflict. He, however, is not worried: “The only thing I have done is have my documents all prepared, together, in waterproof bags”.

The life of Antonio – who is about a six-hour drive from the area of ​​greatest conflict – continues so normal that he refused to join the thirty Mexicans who left this week on buses heading to the south of the country, near the border with Poland, in an evacuation organized by the Embassy of Mexico in Kyiv.

After living in Ukraine for five years, Antonio believes that the tension can spread, as he has seen on other occasions.

This conflict is very complicated, and it is nothing new, it has been going on for many years. Even if they come to some agreement now and there is no Russian attack, this situation will continue,” Antonio says.

Since 2014, the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine, has been experiencing a harsh conflict for dominance of the area between Ukrainian and Russian forces and separatist movements. The crisis has already cost the lives of more than 14,000 people, and it seems to be far from being resolved. “In previous years, still under the government of Petro Poroshenko, a curfew was ordered in the regions near the Black Sea due to a possible Russian attack. It did not evolve to major. We hope that this time it will lead to a positive situation for both parties”, Antonio confides.

32 families of Mexicans in Ukraine are displaced away from the conflict zone with Russia

Life goes on in Járko, the city that has been Silvia Mercado’s home for the last seven years.

Sylvia, a Mexican engineer who has been living and working in Ukraine for several years, declared: “I am more scared by the news that my family sends me telling me how Ukraine looks from the outside, than what we live here. The city continues its normal life. You don’t see fear in the streets, the Ukrainians themselves say that nothing is going to happen.”

Sylvia lives about 200 kilometers from Donbas, she is married to a Ukrainian engineer whom she met in Mexico and they have a daughter. She believes that the tranquility of the neighbors lies in the trust they have in their leaders and their army, and she remembers that the country’s own authorities have asked the citizenship not to stop their ordinary activities.

Until now, the effects of the conflict are not noticeable in daily life, in fact Sylvia says that there is a full supply of products at stores. However, she complains about the price of fuel.

“The increase in the price of gasoline is not very common here and the prices went up a few days ago. All this tension at the global level seems to have consequences in the oil and energy sectors, which are very important in Ukraine”, Sylvia continued.

“I feel that the mobilization of Mexicans this week was the product of the pressure they felt at the embassy,” says Sylvia, who participated in a massive meeting via Zoom together with authorities from the office headed by Ambassador Olga García Guillén. Several Mexicans, she says, asked to be evacuated.

The perception of what is happening in Ukraine varies according to where you look at it. Sylvia says that she repeatedly sends videos to her family in Mexico so they can see how “normal” the city is. “They care a lot. I talk to my Mexican friends and tell them what is going on. It is normal to be a little alarmed, but so far there have been no major changes”, explains Antonio.


Residents of Kiev, Ukraine, enjoy a sunny afternoon on February 19. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images) KYIV, UKRAINE – FEBRUARY 19: Kyiv residents enjoy a sunny afternoon at the Mezhyhirya National Park on February 19, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. The park was the property of former Russia-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych who was ousted in February 2014 during the Maidan uprising. Ukraine has warned that it is virtually encircled, with Russian troops massed on its northern, eastern and southern borders.

Around 250 Mexicans live in Ukraine, according to data recently released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is one of the largest Latino communities in that country, along with Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia.


Sylvia and Antonio maintain contact with the Mexican authorities. Both are registered in a database and are part of a Whatsapp group that the Mexican embassy recently activated to strengthen relations with its nationals.

The tension seems to be so normal in Ukraine that the inhabitants who are not in the conflict zone see everything as if they were thousands of kilometers away.

Finally, Antonio said he was saddened by the images of the children who were taken from their schools and evacuated in the city of Crimea, but he stated that the video was sent to his cellphone, as if he were as close as in Kyiv or as far away as in his native Veracruz.

Source: Yahoo Mexico

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