Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente González on Monday called on the Biden administration to revoke the visas of Mexican politicians who formed the “Mexico-Russia Friendship Committee” following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“In recent days and in the midst of an international crisis in Eastern Europe, several legislators from Mexico’s Federal Congress (Chamber of Deputies) took this opportunity to shun the free world and stand with Putin by forming a Mexico-Russia Friendship Committee,” González wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
“The timing of this committee sent a clear message to the United States and the free world,” wrote González.
A group of Mexican lawmakers, led by Workers’ Party (PT) head Alberto Anaya, planned the Friendship Committee announcement in early March, shortly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The official announcement came later in the month, in a televised meeting between Russian Ambassador Víktor Koronelli and 25 members and former members of the country’s Congress, led by Anaya.
U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar criticized the meeting, alluding to Mexico joining the Allies in the fight against Nazi Germany in World War II for historical context.
Local opposition figures also panned the group for its explicit support of the Russian regime, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined to criticize the lawmakers.
“While Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador continues to publicly maintain a neutral posture in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, actions taken by members of his own MORENA party and others suggest otherwise,” wrote González.
Anaya and many of the lawmakers and politicians present at the meeting are members of the PT, which operates as a satellite party of López Obrador’s Morena party, at times exchanging legislators from one party to another to fill legislative vacancies.
While Morena is in some ways a broader coalition party, the PT has traditionally taken hard-left public positions while operating close to larger power structures.
In 2021, Anaya raised eyebrows by declaring that North Korea “is more of a friend” to Mexico than the United States, while defending North Korean policies that “generate development.”
López Obrador has not publicly come out in favor of the more extreme views in his coalition, but he has done little to tamp down those expressions, and Mexico remains officially neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“It’s disgraceful enough that Mexico — our closest neighbor to the South — has chosen to not stand in unity with the international community of democracies. They have instead refused to send any aid to Ukraine or impose sanctions on Russia,” wrote González.
González also called on Blinken and Mayorkas to “stand with Ukraine and condemn this ‘friendship committee’ by issuing visa revocations for all Mexican members of Congress that have participated in this deplorable assembly.”
The United States has at times used visa revocations as a strong individual sanction that’s particularly effective in Latin America.
González, a Texas border lawmaker with strong ties to Mexico, has taken a personal involvement in bilateral affairs, including as a member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In his letter, González listed by name the 25 Mexican officials and former officials who took place in the meeting with Koronelli.
“If these individuals refuse to condemn Russia, and instead choose to stand with tyranny, they should not be allowed the privilege of entering, traveling or investing in the United States of America,” wrote González.
“I urge you to take action to ensure that no foreign government officials that support Russia during this aggressive and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine are allowed the privileges of entry into our country,” he added.
Source: The Hill