LatAm reacts to Ukraine attacks (Feb. 25, 2022)
Latin American countries reacted variously to Russia's attacks in Ukraine yesterday -- displaying disparate loyalties and priorities that indicate not only ideological differences, but also distinct national geopolitical strategies. The United States called on the region to condemn the Russian offensive. "We urge all countries in the hemisphere to condemn Russia's premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified attack and its immediate withdrawal from the conflict zone."
Colombia, Argentina and Chile called for swift withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Ecuador condemned Russia, saying it had violated international law, and called for an end to fighting. Mexico, which currently holds the chair of the UN Security Council supported the call for diplomacy and respect of Ukraine's territorial integrity. “That is our position, no intervention and self determination of the peoples”, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said yesterday. “We don't want invasions, we don't accept that a country invades another, ...it is contrary to international law...”
Brazil called for a peaceful solution that "takes into account the legitimate security interests of all parties involved." The stance builds on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, a marked divergence from his previously U.S.-oriented foreign policy stance, and a reflection of cooled relations with the U.S. Biden administration.
In a message on social media yesterday, Bolsonaro said his government "is interested in deepening its friendly and commercial ties with other countries," citing Russia, Ukraine and Hungary. Bolsonaro later scolded Vice-President Hamilton Mourão, who contradicted the president when he told reporters that "Brazil is not positioning itself as neutral. Brazil made it very clear that it respects Ukraine's sovereignty. So Brazil does not agree with an invasion of Ukrainian territory."
Argentine President Alberto Fernández also travelled to Moscow in recent weeks, but yesterday the country called on the Russian Federation to "cease military actions in Ukraine."
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said it “strongly condemns the military attacks and invasion of Ukraine by The Russian Federation and calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of the military presence and cessation of any further actions that may intensify the current perilous situation in that country."
Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba defended Moscow's position in recent days, all alleged that U.S. aggression and involvement in Ukraine justify Russia's stance. On Wednesday, Cuba's President Miguel Díaz-Canel, while meeting a Russian official in Havana, invoked Russia's "right to defend itself" and expressed solidarity with Moscow in the face of "sanctions and the expansion of NATO towards its borders."
Following the invasion, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said that Venezuela “rejects the worsening of the crisis in Ukraine as a result of NATO’s breach of the Minsk agreements.”
His "stance may sink the possibility of progress in internationally backed negotiations that began last year between his government and Venezuela’s political opposition in Mexico City," writes Catherine Osborn in Foreign Policy's Latin America Brief.
The volatile geopolitical situation is fueling a shift among U.S. policy makers who slowly focusing more on Latin America and the Caribbean, writes Scott McDonald in Global Americans.
But the U.S. should avoid slipping back into Cold War style diplomacy in Latin America. "It would be unfortunate for U.S. diplomats and defense planners to slip into a familiar rut of backing friendly dictators and militaries in a misguided effort to preserve access and influence in this hemisphere," writes Adam Isacson at War on the Rocks. "That Cold War rut may offer comfort as authoritarianism, social unrest, and mass migration rise in Latin America, but it should be resisted. This time, the United States ought to contend with China, Russia, and other extra-regional dictatorships in a way that upholds Latin America’s brave reformers and insists on democratic norms."
Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric rejected the violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and the illegitimate use of force.
(AFP, New York Times, Miami Herald, AFP, Washington Post)
More Regional Relations
"While Russia seeks to take on the role of disrupter, China is attempting to be a good partner with which regional governments can maintain a long-term relationship," , writes Scott McDonald in Global Americans. "As U.S. policymakers look to breathe life back into a renewed approach toward Latin America and the Caribbean, they should be aware that China has gained supporters in the region, many of whom regard the Asian country as the global hegemon-in-the-making."
The U.S. Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative aims to compete with China's Belt and Road Initiative. But with few concrete details, it is as yet difficult to see how B3W can provide its desired "strategic competition with China," writes Mat Youkee in Dialogo Chino.
The Haiti National Police force has begun an internal investigation into allegations that officers shot and killed a local photojournalist and seriously injured two others who were covering a garment workers protest in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, reports the Miami Herald. (See yesterday's post.) In recent years Haiti has seen an increase in the slaying of journalists, none of which have been solved.
A report by the European Union mission that monitored Venezuela’s November 2021 elections underscores that Venezuelans faced serious obstacles in voting and running for office. The report provides a roadmap for the substantial reforms needed for free and fair elections, explains Human Rights Watch.
There are concerns that a wall the Dominican Republic is constructing along its border with Haiti will bring opportunities for bribery, reports the Guardian. (See Monday's briefs and yesterday's.)
A spate of violent incidents along Mexico's Riviera Maya demonstrate the growing brazenness of criminal organizations striving for territorial control, but doesn't seem to have scared off vacationers, reports the New York Times.
Youth in Colombia continue to be trapped by a range of armed groups, which use everything from bribery to death threats to get them into their ranks, according to a new report by the Colombian Organized Crime Observatory. (InSight Crime)
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo's administration "becomes less chaotic when viewed in the context of Peru’s geopolitical needs and constraints," argues Allison Fedirka in Global Americans.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...