Latin America is free to make own policy choices, says Lavrov on US threats and the humiliating Monroe Doctrine

Sergey Lavrov

With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s current Latin America tour significant change is happening in the region.

Sergey Lavrov has hit back at threats from Washington over Moscow’s support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, insisting Caracas and its neighbors deserve the option not to be U.S. vassal states.

Lavrov was in Mexico on an official tour. Prior to the Mexico visit, Lavrov was on official tour to Cuba and Venezuela. The official tour began on February 5. It will conclude on February 8. During the visit, the Russian FM mainly addresses the development of political dialogue, economic cooperation and the improvement of relations between Russia and Latin American nations.

“I have heard the threats from Washington about punishing all those who work with Venezuela,” Lavrov confirmed during a press conference in Mexico City on Thursday. “But we are used to that. We are used to American officials saying that yes, Washington is still true to the Monroe Doctrine.”

Russia was merely offering Venezuela and its neighbors in the region a second option, beyond the status quo of subjugation to their northern neighbor, Lavrov suggested.

The Russian FM said: “If the Latin American countries believe they are comfortable under the Monroe Doctrine, well, it’s up to them, but to me it would be humiliating.”

“They can take any position on any international issue they want,” he continued, emphasizing that Russia was not forcing anyone’s hand in the region.

Lavrov was apparently referring to a warning from U.S. special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, who had hinted earlier on Thursday that Russia could be sanctioned over its continued support for the Latin American country.

“As several administration officials have noted, the Russians may soon find that their continued support of Maduro will no longer be cost-free,” he said, hinting other nations that refuse to fall in line behind self-appointed “interim president” Juan Guaido may also find themselves on the receiving end of sanctions.

Sergey Lavrov held a meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, to strengthen trade, political, and diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Both ministers addressed crucial issues in the economy and trade, such as Russia’s cooperation in strengthening the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

“It has been a very productive visit, we reached an agreement on cultural centers, the peaceful use of outer space, links with police agencies for the fight against terrorism, we also covered the introduction of a visa-free regime for our citizens,” said the Russian Foreign Minister.

The meeting aimed to strengthen agreements on energy, and those related to agricultural products.

Lavrov mentioned the importance of diplomatic ties with Mexico: After Brazil, Mexico is the second most important partner for Russia. “Between 2016 and 2018, bilateral trade reached 2.4 billion dollars,” he added.

Within the framework of a friendly environment, Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been invited by Moscow to attend next May the great event that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Mexico and Russia reject interventions in Venezuela

The Russian FM reiterated that both Mexico and his nation respect the freedom and self-determination of nations, “Venezuelans are the only ones who can solve their problems … the situation won’t be resolved with attempts to provoke a confrontation of forces and military intervention,” he added.

“Mexico and Russia, we believe that the region must have a multipolar order … Venezuela must solve its problems through inclusive dialogue among all the important forces in the country,” said Lavrov.

“Russia will maintain economic ties with the constitutional government of Venezuela. The U.S. idea for Venezuela, we believe undermines economic ties and contradicts the letter of the UN and World Trade Organization,” reiterated the Russian minister.

The Russian Foreign Minister said that the White House must understand that the western region is multipolar. “The U.S. believes they should prevail in the region, but now we have a multipolar world.”

He questioned the statements by former Washington National Security adviser, John Bolton, that countries like Russia and China could not be part of the west.

“The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean must defend their progress against U.S. threats,” said Lavrov.

“We do not make these approaches in the region to generate a destabilization against the United States,” he said.

Cuba visit

Lavrov had a meeting with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

Among the issues discussed between the two countries were the coercive measures applied by the U.S. against Cuba that has been blocked for more than 60 years.

Russia is actively involved in the Cuban 2030 development program with plans to repair and modernize the railways, build energy blocks, training of specialists, medical cooperation and many other issues.

Upon arrival in Cuba, the Russian FM gave an exclusive interview to local media, Prensa Latina, where he reaffirmed his rejection of the U.S. blockade and highlighted Russia’s support of Cuba.

“On the eve of the presidential elections, the White House reinforces the pressure through sanctions against those governments that maintain their national independence, their sovereignty, and identity,” he stressed.

Lavrov went on to say that sanctions applied by Washington against Cuba show that in the eagerness to strangle the economy of Cuba, the U.S. consciously violates human rights, with the Cuban people being the most affected.

“We will always support a united, politically and economically strong Latin America, because only under these conditions can that region be materially considered one of the bases of the process of creating a multipolar world,” Lavrov told Prensa Latina.

Lavrov mentioned that Russia and Cuba are working together on a whole range of large-scale projects in the fields of energy, transport, communication, biotechnologies and even space.

“We cherish the fact that Cuban authorities give Russia a very special role in modernization of their national economy,” the minister said, praising the decades-long “traditions of friendship and cooperation.”

Even though it is 2020, the U.S. view of Latin America seems stuck in the 1820s. The “archaic” Monroe doctrine still holds say in Washington, Lavrov noted in the interview.




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