Putin is already in Mexico

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Perhaps for Vladimir Putin, damaging the United States and its destabilization involves first doing the same in Mexico, as a disposable piece of his equation.

In October last year, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the RT television channel and eternal member of the list of the 20 most influential women in Russia, announced the start of broadcasts of the Russian television channel on the Metrobús system in Mexico City, “where passengers can now get acquainted with the news while waiting for their bus.” The advertising extended to the Metro and billboards in various parts of the country, which made visible the concern expressed in March 2023 by General Glen VanHerck, head of the United States Northern Command, during a Senate hearing, where he revealed that Mexico had the highest number of Russian spies in the world.

There was no reaction from the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but it aroused the interest of Dolia Estévez, dean of Mexican correspondents in Washington, who a month after VanHerck’s statement published that in a matter of weeks the number of Russian diplomats in Mexico had grown to 49. In May, she found that the Russian Embassy had accredited 36 new diplomats, bringing the total to 85; a 60 percent increase in months.

The number of Russian diplomats in Mexico is unprecedented, even in the years of the Cold War, when Moscow and its then satellites in Eastern Europe carried out intense intelligence and espionage activity in Mexico City, which in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was turned into the new Casablanca. The United States had the largest embassy, after Vienna, the gateway from the West to the communist world at that time, to counter the espionage of its enemies, and developed two counterintelligence operations, the Military Intelligence Verona Project that monitored communications, and the Cointelpro, carried out by the FBI, which infiltrated the Communist Party, unions, and media, among other institutions.

The Russian presence, which can be argued was at least endorsed by President Vladimir Putin, a KGB officer for 16 years, is part of a disinformation scheme through RT – the acronym for Russia Today – and since 2009 has been a fundamental piece for 500 million Spanish-speaking consumers of information from the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery, whose broadcasts have been blocked and banned in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union.

A study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford revealed how RT and the news agency Sputnik increased their presence in Latin America after the invasion of Ukraine, adding to their team of disseminators a group of influencers from the region. Vladimir Rouvinski, associate professor at Icesi University in Colombia, pointed out that these media have eroded liberal democracy in the hemisphere, and “increase polarization because they never talk about consensus.”

In the new edition of the Cold War, Mexico is as trapped as when the Berlin Wall still existed, but unlike those times when it opted for an alliance with Washington, all signs now are that the President has chosen the trench of Moscow, as seen last Sunday, The Hill, the most-read newspaper in the Capitol, in a long report where it observed that Russian media and messages were growing in Mexico, highlighting the presence of RT in public transport in Mexico City. “Since our advertising began, our audience has grown immensely,” said the Russian ambassador to Mexico, Nikolay Sofinskiy, to Ignacio Rodríguez, nicknamed El Chapucero, one of the first influencers recruited by the López Obrador propaganda team, to disseminate the President’s messages and lash out at his critics.”

“The potential impact that the presence of the Russian propaganda machinery may have on Mexican society cannot yet be assessed, but it has entered the minds of Mexicans in a culturally easy way—like the support for the Nazis in the prelude to World War II—due to the well-founded anti-American imperialism.

We have perceived the Russian penetration as important and relevant, but somehow limited until this weekend, when Javier Tejado published in SDP Noticias, a monumental finding. Analyzing the INE data on television media coverage of the presidential campaign, he found that the channel that gave the most space was Channel 13, which is not Televisión Azteca, a name we knew for a long time, nor had anything to do with its owner Ricardo Salinas Pliego.

Tejado found that the frequencies of Channel 13 are assigned to the company Telsusa Televisión México, owned by Ángel Remigio González, a Mexican and naturalized Guatemalan, who has an empire of electronic media in Central America. The Phantom, as he is nicknamed, has a company in Miami managed by Guillermo Cañedo White, with 35 television stations, 114 radio frequencies, and two cinema chains, Tejado exposed.

The great surprise, the columnist admitted, was finding an official document from the Federal Telecommunications Institute dated just over four months ago, which accounts for all 15 Telsusa concessionaires covering Campeche, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, and Veracruz had authorized multiprogramming in favor of RT. The financing of Channel 13 helps its expansion, which is the only explanation Tejado found for the intensity and breadth of the presidential coverage with the usual filter of “media manipulation and information warfare.”

There are two scenarios as working hypotheses in this novel version of the Cold War, where on one hand is the strengthening of the current regime to reinforce support for Putin, filling the minds of Mexicans with disinformation, exacerbating their contradictions, and accelerating polarization, and on the other, in this new struggle that is not ideological—both are capitalists—but for absolute power, where perhaps for Putin, the damage to the United States and its destabilization, involves first doing the same in Mexico, as a disposable piece of his equation.”

By Raymundo Riva Palacios

Source: El Financiero