Just as San Miguel Times collaborator Alejandro Azcárate pointed out back in October 29, 2017; US expert H.R. McMaster recently told Business Insider that Russian president Vladimir Putin may have an eye on Mexico’s 2018 presidency.
“The US has seen “initial signs” of Russian “subversion and disinformation and propaganda” in Mexico’s presidential campaign“, declared National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.
McMaster made the comments when asked about Russia during a mid-December event at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC, according to Mexico City based newspaper Reforma. McMaster has mentioned Russia’s “destablizing behavior” in Mexico and elsewhere several times in recent weeks.
“For example, with Russia we are concerned, increasingly concerned, with these sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation and propaganda, the use of cyber tools to do that,” McMaster said.
Mexicans will vote on July 1 to elect a new president, every senator and representative, some governors, and thousands of officials in states across the country, and analysts and officials have already expressed concern about the potential for Russian interference.
“If [Russia] intervened in the United States, there’s every reason to think that Mexico is a target for attack,” Mexican Sen. Armando Ríos Piter of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution told The Hill back on April 2017.
Ríos Piter, who launched an independent presidential bid, said Mexico’s standing in the world made it a natural target and that the country needed to strengthen its counterintelligence capabilities.
Close links between US and Mexico on energy, economic, transportation, and national-security issues – as well as 37 million Mexican-Americans and immigrants in the US with roots in Mexico – make the southern country an appealing target if Russia seeks to undermine the Western world and the US’s role in it, according to Shannon O’Neill, senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Russian intelligence services have a long history in Mexico, O’Neill notes, and the Mexican government’s history of hacking, the media’s role in exchanging coverage for payments or ad money, and the lack of agencies equipped to deal with such interference could leave Mexico hard-pressed or unable to counter misinformation.
Mexico’s political parties have been accused of electoral malfeasance in the past – the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party chief among them – and the potential for dirty tricks by Mexican officials themselves remains high.
Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University, told Bloomberg that hacking of the Mexican electoral system – either by the PRI political party or by a government like Russia – is a significant risk on this election.
Russia has a history of backing left-wing governments in Latin America. It had close relations with Cuba throughout the Cold War, maintains ties with Nicaragua’s government, and has grown increasingly close to Venezuela’s embattled government. Therefore, many speculate Moscow could try to back Mexico’s left-wing presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
SMT Newsroom with information from Business Insider