Poor Mexico, so far from the United States and so close to Russia?

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Porfirio Díaz is credited with the expression: Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States. Everything indicates that it was not he who invented it and simply by using it, he made it famous. Nor is the context of his use clear which would shed light on what he really meant. The phrase has been incorporated into Mexican popular culture and mixes “anti-Yankeeism” with the acceptance of geopolitical and geoeconomic reality. Not long ago AMLO, the Mexican president, based on the aforementioned expression, told the United States Secretary of State: Blessed Mexico, so close to God and not so far from the United States.

The God part of the sentence is an imaginary reference in all cases, but the part that relates to the United States reflects the historical contradictions in the relationship with our main economic partner and neighbor.

All this comes to mind because the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it clear that AMLO’s government or at least part of that government, among whom he is (and that is enough), is not clear about the role that the United States plays in our development and what kind of relationship we should have with them. That “not so close” that AMLO wants, to accept the relationship, but does not quite like it.


While racing has added to the condemnation of the invasion, there have been nuances. That condemnation is much clearer in the UN than in the national palace. Under the volatile and opportunistic interpretation that AMLO has of non-intervention, he has resisted any type of sanction against Russia and calls for dialogue between the parties as if Ukraine and Russia were at war, fighting something when what it is about is that Russia invaded Ukraine. It reminded me of Trump when at the white supremacist march that led to clashes with anti-racism groups, he said there were good people on both sides.

He even criticized the approval of US aid to Ukraine, complaining why that money is not better used for the extension of its programs such as the sowing of life in Central America.

The United States has accurate readings of that lukewarmness and because of the importance it has given to that invasion, starting with Joe Biden, the Mexican government is increasingly placed in the drawer of countries that are not on the US side.

As if AMLO’s cantinflesque lukewarmness was not enough, this week the Mexican Congress had the terrible and inopportune idea of ​​installing the Friendship Group between Mexico and Russia. Didn’t they find a worse moment? When practically the entire Western world closes its doors to Russia? It is true, it was the congress that occurred and not the AMLO administration, but from the deputies involved and who appear smiling in the photo with the Russian ambassador, there is no doubt that the Mexican president and his instruments in the congress are those of the “initiative”. In fact, the person who welcomed him was 92-year-old deputy Augusto Gómez Villanueva, who has always been close to former President Luis Echeverría and referred to the ambassador as a representative of a heroic government. It looks awesome.

The responses and messages from the United States were immediate. The next day, in a similar act, the US ambassador claimed that untimely and inappropriate closeness with Russia. Not even for that our deputies had tact. The United States-Mexico Friendship Group was installed a day after the equivalent with Russia.

Beyond the forms of AMLO or the set phrases of the morning conferences and even the rudeness asking for the regularization of the 4 million undocumented Mexicans in the United States (although he says 10 million in case anyone still has doubts about how disconnected is off the subject), and that these friendship groups are useless, the tension with the United States is growing.

The electrical reform that AMLO promotes, among many other measures and uncertainties, affects US investment interests and they are not willing to sit idly by. They already sent him the message with several high-level officials.

The United States buys 80% of our exports from us, investment, trade, and tourism, just to mention some of the central factors of our development, depend on the United States. Nearly eleven million Mexicans born in Mexico live in that country (not all undocumented) and another 26 million are children of Mexicans. Someone should explain all this information to AMLO and that his brand new airport will be empty without American airlines or that his Mayan train will fall into oblivion and abandonment if the large tourist companies of our neighbors do not participate. It is not so difficult to understand.

Perhaps this is not the time to be so close to Russia and so far from the United States.

*Jorge Santibáñez is president of the Mexa Institute
TW: @mexainstitute

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