The rhetoric of Russia allegedly meddling in the past U.S. election and interfering in European elections continues to fuel concerns about whether Putin will meddle in the Mexican presidential election next year.
On Monday, Sen. Armando Ríos Piter of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) told The Hill that potential interference by the Russian government in Mexican elections “must not be minimized.”
He continued, “If [Russia] intervened in the United States, there’s every reason to think that Mexico is a target for attack,” said Ríos Piter, who launched an independent presidential bid.
Ríos Piter fears that Mexico may be a target for Russia because the country is expected to become a top-five economy within the next few decades. “The geopolitical and economic transcendence of Mexico is evident — it’s not a country in the periphery,” he said.
In light of the political climate, Ríos Piter is urging Mexico’s government to consider bolstering its counterintelligence capabilities and align with other countries that could be facing similar challenges.
The report claims that Russia has been seeking to influence Latin America as relations between the U.S. and Cuba improve and supporting Venezuela’s troubled socialist government. Additionally, Vladimir Putin is becoming more involved with Nicaragua and has increased its military support for President Daniel Ortega as relations between the U.S. have greatly diminished.
American officials are paying close attention to a mysterious Russian compound located near the U.S. embassy in Managua, which is equipped with “antennas and globe-shaped devices,” though Nicaraguans claim it is a tracking station for the Russian version of GPS.
The Hill reports that Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act last week, in an effort to cut foreign aid to the country unless it holds free and fair elections.
“The most fruitful political relationship that Russia has, and where it’s made its greatest advances, has been Nicaragua,” Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the U.S. Army War College, told the Washington Post.
According to a Wilson Center report, it claims that “perhaps the most ambitious effort by the Kremlin is its promotion of RT Spanish language broadcasting and internet expansion into the region.”
Moscow has increased efforts to make the Russian cable news RT Español its political beachhead across Latin America. As such, Putin has reportedly increased RT Español’s funding and has made its content available for online streaming.
Speculation is also swirling that Russia could be toying with the idea of backing a left-wing candidate for Mexico’s presidency, former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is currently leading in the polls ahead of the July 2018 election.
Another source of contention is that political opponents claim López Obrador is being backed by RT.
If the allegations are true that RT is supporting candidate López Obrador or has received any support from Russia, it could potentially hurt the candidate among Mexican voters, who have previously rejected candidates who appear invested in foreign interests.
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