Raymundo Riva Palacio: Putin’s plumber


It is becoming increasingly clear that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is working as a plumber for President Vladimir Putin, and in some way paying for Moscow’s old gestures. As he says, love is repaid with love, and at this moment love became a tongue of fire against the immediate enemy of the Russian leader, Volodimir Zelensky, president of Ukraine. López Obrador did not like that the European Parliament nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, which would be announced this Friday in Oslo, because he brings together two of his animosities, Putin’s enemy and the MEPs. If they gave it to him, his aches and pains would probably intensify.

On Wednesday, out of nowhere, as he usually does in the Morning, he scratched with one of his usual parables, he said: “With all due respect, the European Parliament proposing the President of Ukraine as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, regardless of whether we participate in favor of one or the other, how is one of the actors in the conflict in the war going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize? Aren’t there others who fight for peace? Why not Pope Francis, the very head (sic) of the UN? And there must be many, many more. Ah! But those are organizations that have dedicated themselves to questioning us, and the OAS and the UN itself in human rights”.

The President’s phobias, projected worldwide. It has been against the European Parliament since it approved a resolution in March -with the vote of the left- with 607 votes in favor, two against and 73 abstentions, which condemned the violence against Mexican journalists. The response was through a statement from the Presidency the next day where with unusual language he called them “sheep” for joining “the reactionary and coup strategy of the corrupt group that opposes the Fourth Transformation.” That statement, product of the President’s short fuse, was written by a young man who writes bulletins, during the journey of a flight to Chiapas, and which he approved without changing a single comma.

It is very rare – not to say unprecedented – for a leader to make a negative statement about a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, unless he feels directly affected. Despite the camaraderie relationship between the foreign ministers of the Kremlin and the Zócalo, as seen in a recent photograph in New York where Russian Sergey Lavrov and Marcelo Ebrard are smiling during a bilateral meeting, and Russian support with their COVID vaccines It would seem too much to think that it was a favor requested from López Obrador. Knowing him, he probably said it without consulting anyone.

López Obrador, however, is very consistent. Although after several days the Mexican government condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, his statements and actions have been in favor of Putin. His peace plan, which calls for an immediate ceasefire and a five-year truce, normalized the Russian occupation. For argumentation purposes, if that had been accepted, the recovery of Ukrainian territory in the east and south of that nation with the Russian military defeats and their withdrawal, would never have happened. When they criticized the plan from kyiv, the President said that they had not understood his initiative. In reality, he was the one who did not understand anything, except that the intention had been, in effect, for Putin to keep half of Ukraine.

The President is on a crusade against Zelensky and the nations that support him. That is, in favor of Putin. On Wednesday he said that there were things that he could not understand, such as the fact that Ukraine asked to join NATO and is not allowed – it just officially requested it on September 30 – but they send them weapons. “Who puts the dead?” He stressed. If you look at the statistics you will find the answer: the number of Ukrainian civilians killed until October 2 is 6,114, of whom 390 are children, and the number of injured is 9,132,690 of them children. There are no Russian civilians killed. If NATO had not sent weapons and provided intelligence, from the end of February Ukraine would be in the hands of Russia.

That would have been very good for him because it would strengthen his alliances in Latin America, where the governments he most defends – Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – are supported by Putin. The Russian axis in the region also includes Mexico. Chile and Colombia, two other important nations in the subcontinent, which have authentic leftist governments, condemned the invasion of Ukraine with a historical and political context.

Other leftist nations have had a rapprochement not with Moscow, but with President Joe Biden, such as Argentina, due to the personal management, paradoxically, of López Obrador, who asked him to receive President Alberto Fernández. But in his diplomatic schizophrenia, on Wednesday he joined the unanimous vote of OPEC and the independent oil-producing countries to cut crude production and seek an increase in prices. In practice, Mexico will not lower its production, because the market does not alter the price of fuel to the consumer due to the subsidy, but politically it has put itself in the opposite trench to that of the United States.

López Obrador, who has tunnel vision, has wanted to qualify his support for Putin. That is why he asked himself: “Why not accept our proposal that a committee be formed to achieve peace? We propose Pope Francis, the Prime Minister of India (Narendra) Modi, the Secretary (Antonio) Guterres of the UN”. The proposal did not walk by absurd. None of the mediators he suggested said yes. No one seriously paid attention to him.

The perception of López Obrador in various capitals is not that of an impartial and objective leader. The idea that has been built of him from his actions and statements is that of a neophyte who is serving the interests of Putin and his Latin American allies, whether he does it deliberately or not.

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