During my time in Mexico, I had lunch with a Mexican businessman and asked him about his country’s relationship with Castro’s Cuba. I asked him what’s the big deal? What does Mexico get out of it? He answered by saying that Mexico-Cuba relations are about keeping the left in the universities happy and showing some independence from the U.S. He concluded by telling me not to take it too seriously.
Last week, Cuba’s never-elected “president,” Miguel Díaz-Canel, was a special guest at Mexico’s Independence Day parade. He even spoke about the long historical relationship between the two countries going back to colonial days. Of course, he also called for the end of the U.S. embargo. As always, no one in the media reminded the Cuban leader that the embargo does not stop Mexico or any other country from doing business with the island. Who cares about the truth anyway?
Díaz-Canel’s visit created a lot of conversation in Miami as expected. And I was happy to see others join the parade of critics, such as Mexico’s former president, Felipe Calderón:
López Obrador’s invitation to the Cuban leader generated criticism among the Mexican opposition and Cubans, on and off the island, who have denounced Díaz-Canel’s role in the repression of the anti-government protests that shook the island in July.
“It is unacceptable that a dictator who locks up dozens of Cuban citizens has the leading role in the celebrations,” Calderón posted on Twitter.Thank you President Calderón.
And thanks to the many others who posted similar comments, such as President Luis Lacalle-Pou of Uruguay.
Why did López Obrador make Díaz-Canel such a prominent guest? It’s not for economic reasons. My guess is that López Obrador is trying to remind the Mexican left that he is one of them, especially as his administration tries to deal with an economic crisis as a result of COVID. He may also be trying to bring the U.S. and Cuba closer as we saw in the early 1980s when President Reagan accepted to engage in talks with Cuba in Mexico City. Eventually, those talks ended because Castro had troops in Angola.
So what did López Obrador get for inviting such a controversial guest? Not much except that he once again showed that he has a fondness for left-wing causes and the leftist university professors south of the border love that. Don’t expect any marches in Mexican universities calling on Díaz-Canel to stop beating protesters. Only Chile’s Augusto Pinochet got that treatment!