Comment by the Information and Press Department on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech at the University of Texas on US policy in Latin America
We noted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech at the University of Texas on US policy in Latin America. The main takeaway is that the Monroe Doctrine continues to hold sway in Washington, even though it will turn 200 years old fairly soon, in 2023. The world has changed significantly over the years, but the America-for-Americans principle appears to be alive and well.
Like President James Monroe in his time, Secretary Tillerson cited Russia to justify his conceptual framework, and so we would like to express our view of the region without arguing “by contradiction.”
We have also noted Latin America’s growing role in the modern world. We consider the region to be a distinctive civilisational component in the polycentric international order that is emerging. Latin America is increasing its participation and influence in current institutions of global governance – the UN, the G20, BRICS, and APEC. The Latin Americans are leading such important global forums as the WTO and FAO.
During recent talks in the Kremlin, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Argentina Mauricio Macri discussed in detail our priorities for the activities of the G20. We sincerely wish success to Argentina during its Presidency.
Russia’s relations with Latin American countries are based on substantial shared interests, such as the commitment to the principles of multilateral diplomacy embodied in the UN’s activities, protection and assertion of national sovereignty, and promotion of sustainable development. Russia and Latin American countries consider the deployment of weapons in space to be unacceptable, and reject any and all attempts to glorify Nazism.
We are united in our belief that the unconstitutional change of government, extraterritorial application of national legislation, and sanctions pressure are unacceptable. We supported UNGA Resolution 70/149, “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”, and we are for the universal application of the democratic principles enshrined in the fundamental documents of integration associations in the Western Hemisphere.
Respect for the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in internal affairs is an important part of democracy. The liberator (as he is referred to in Latin America) Simon Bolivar said that all states have the right to choose their own particular system of government, and other states must respect this choice. The Secretary of State will have the chance to read this eternally relevant quote, when he is in Bogota, at the main entrance to San Carlos Palace, which now houses the Colombian Foreign Ministry. It rings as true as ever today, including in relation to the situation in Venezuela and the dynamics of internal life in Cuba. The experience of half-a-century of US embargo failed to convince only the most obstinate individuals that sanctions pressure will not work against freedom-loving countries and peoples.
Our policy towards Latin America is open and not driven by ideology. There is no hidden agenda, and it is not directed against anyone. Latin American is an inherently valuable component of our country’s international activity.
Our relations are multidimensional. We work together in the political arena. We promote trade and economic relations, including in high-tech areas, such as energy, transport, infrastructure, biotechnology, etc. We help train and provide advanced professional training to civilian specialists and law enforcement and first responders to natural disasters to raise the level of civil preparedness, combat illicit drug trafficking and transnational organised crime, and provide relief after emergencies. We are also developing cultural ties. We look forward to hosting national teams from eight Latin American countries during the World Cup.
We are developing defence industry cooperation to the extent that there is mutual interest. Our approach is based on respect for the balance of forces in the region. Disrupting military-political stability, or provoking mistrust and conflict is unacceptable.
We appreciate the region’s independence, the fact that its relations with Russia are based on a consensus of a wide range of political forces regardless of who is currently in power. For us, it is important for Latin America to be strong, economically stable and politically "united in its diversity." We will continue to work in the interest of promoting cooperation, building not walls but bridges for the benefit of our countries, their stability and sustainable development.