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- The Impact of Russian Invasion of Ukraine on Latin America
What is the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Latin America?
For clarification, I am obviously not a journalist or academic who specializes in “the impact of global conflicts on Latin America.”
Regardless, I tend to find the topics like this interesting and spend a fair deal reading about them more than your typical person.
And I live in Latin America (Mexico City to be precise) so I do have opinions.
Given this topic has made the rounds among numerous people I follow online, I’ve grown a stronger interest regarding the impact of this conflict on Latin America since it keeps getting thrown in front of my face.
Initially, I posted a comment on this article here saying that I didn't think it would impact Latin America too much but had some potential!
"...when it comes to Latin America as a region, I’d say that the impact so far has been relatively minimal but has potential for SOME noticeable changes with Venezuela specifically in regards to its economy and also the geopolitics of the region."
After doing some research on the topic now over the last few days, I change my mind and will say that it does have some noticeable impacts and some potential for some bigger impacts in the future.
And what you will read will be mostly information put together based on what I could find online with some opinion thrown in.
At any rate, let’s cover the basic facts regarding what I could find online before wrapping this up with my opinion on it all at the end.
And, if you wish, use this Table of Contents here below to help navigate this long article as it is over 12,000 words.
For those who want a summary of the impacts, just skip to the "Final Verdict" section in the end.
So let’s get to it!
Latin America’s Political Response to the Conflict
This is the first thing you’ll notice right away: the response of the political leaders in Latin America regarding this conflict.
First, we have Mexico.
Over the last month since the war started, Mexico’s President, AMLO, has generally tried to be neutral on the conflict for the more part.
He won’t sanction Russia, will allow Russian airlines to operate in Mexico, won’t send aid to Ukraine but has not shown words of support or opposition to what Putin is doing in Ukraine (insisting that Mexico is neutral in the conflict to be precise).
Here is one example.
Having said that, you do have people in AMLO’s party, Morena, that have shown support for Russia.
As you can read here, there has been activity in Mexico’s Congress and within Morena that have shown this support.
“A half-dozen legislators from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party joined Wednesday in creating a congressional “Mexico-Russia Friendship Committee,” almost a month after Russian troops invaded Ukraine.”
“About two dozen congress members from Morena and the allied Labor Party applauded Russian Ambassador Viktor Koronelli Wednesday after he addressed the committee, which met at Congress.”
“In early March, a youth group apparently affiliated with the president’s Morena party made headlines in Mexico after it sent an open letter to the Russian ambassador supporting the invasion.”
Having said that, there has been some contradiction in the Mexican response to the conflict also.
Specifically, you’ve had efforts by Mexico and France in proposing a humanitarian resolution that, as you can see here, Russia accused of having “anti-Russian phrases” and supposedly led to “another anti-Russian political meeting.”
On top of that, we have Mexico’s Foreign Secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, who has condemned Russia as you can see here.
Then we have Brazil where their President, Bolsonaro, refuses to condemn Russia for its actions and asserts that Brazil will remain “neutral” as you can see here.
Still, words are different from actions and, as you can see here, Brazil chose to vote against Russia on a draft in a U.N. Security Council resolution “that would have deplored the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
In the media anyway, both the cases of Mexico and Brazil seem to have been more widely reported on regarding their diplomatic stances towards the conflict. Having said that, what quick information could be found regarding the positions of other Latin American countries?
Well, for El Salvador, apparently their President, Bukele, mocked the idea by the US and allies that Russia would invade Ukraine with tweets like “the boy who cried wolf” but has remained silent regarding his stance on the issue ever since the invasion actually happened as you can read here.
Diplomatically at the UN anyway, supposedly El Salvador abstained from a vote to condemn Russia for its invasion as you can see here.
Within Central America anyway, 5 of the 7 Central American nations supposedly voted in favor of a UN Resolution calling for Putin to withdraw from Ukraine as you can see in that last source above.
More interestingly, you had Panama refusing to condemn Russia though as you can see here but Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica did condemn Russia.
Interesting enough though, the only country in Central America that seems directly in support of Russia’s actions is Nicaragua.
We have this interesting bit here from Nicaragua’s President, Daniel Ortega, himself:
“Ortega dedicated his speech on the 88th anniversary of the assassination of General Augusto C. Sandino, a national hero and symbol of Latin American anti-intervention, to justify Russian aggression days after he had given his support in Managua to Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, a Putin’s emissary who promised him increased military and commercial cooperation.
“The step taken today by President Putin to recognize these provinces, which are provinces that are populated by Russian citizens; I am sure that if they submit it to an election or a referendum like the one they did in Crimea, I am sure that there the people will vote for even annexing themselves to Russia, which was what Crimea did. It returned to the situation it was in before the fall of the Soviet Union,” Ortega justified.”
More on what Daniel Ortega said here.
Of course, there might be reasons for Daniel Ortega’s support given he has reasons to be against the US geopolitically and also because Russia has a history of supporting his government, including a military cooperation agreement that is in the works now as you can see here.
Still, similar to El Salvador, Nicaragua simply abstained on the vote in the UN regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine as you can see here.
Then we have Cuba which their response can be read about in this article here.
To summarize, you have plenty of Cuban people who support Ukraine in the conflict but the Cuban government does not.
The government seems to condemn the US into provoking the war and threatening Russia and will not support a proposal to condemn Russia.
When it comes to the Dominican Republic, you had their President, Luis Abinader, release this statement here that condemned the invasion.
For Puerto Rico, I couldn’t find any information.
When it comes to a good portion of South America, you had condemnations from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
Next, we have Argentina and Bolivia who didn’t condemn Russia but at least called for a cessation of hostilities.
In the case of Argentina specifically, what is interesting is that their President, Alberto Fernandez, met with Putin before the invasion and had these nice words to say:
"Alberto Fernández ofrece a Vladimir Putin que Argentina sea la "puerta de entrada" de Rusia en América Latina durante una reunión de ambos mandatarios en Moscú"
Finally, we have Venezuela. Now, to the surprise of nobody, Venezuela followed a similar route of Cuba and Nicaragua by blaming the US and NATO for the conflict as you can see here.
Though, as we’ll see later in this article, Nicaragua is actually an interesting case to examine.
So what could the diplomatic response of Latin America be summarized as?
In short, it seems like most countries either condemn or call for Russia to stop its actions in Ukraine with some countries choosing to be more neutral on the matter. You also have “certain vibes” of support for Russia by some of those on the left who typically see the US as their enemy and therefore align more with Russia.
Now, to be fair, this political posturing doesn’t have much impact on Latin America at large.
It’s become a conversation for some Latin Americans watching the news, has made some media ratings for some Latin American news companies and has forced the hand of many Latin American politicians to issue statements.
In short though, the politics discussed so far doesn’t have much of an impact on Latin America at all.
One could argue that, in the long run, perhaps the Russian government will remember who stood up for them and who didn’t and that might influence who Russia has closer relations with that can translate to economic and military benefits.
After all, Putin did release this list of “unfriendly nations” in regards to those that were hostile to his invasion of Ukraine as you can see here.
Fortunately, the list didn’t include any countries from Latin America.
In fact, the list doesn’t even include the Mother Countries of Spain and Portugal.
Though, when it comes to the Iberian Peninsula, it DID include Andorra and Gibraltar.
….I’m sure Latin America will find that disrespectful and offer full diplomatic support for the good people of Andorra and Gibraltar!
Anyway, outside of current political posturing by Latin American leaders of today, what about the behavior of individuals?
After all, we’ve all seen images and videos of people pouring out Russian bottles of vodka and doing other small tasks to show their 117 friends on Facebook about how much they disapprove of Russia’s actions.
Any similar behavior among Latin Americans?
The Latin Americans Who Disapprove of Putin
First, we have people who protest at Russian Embassies.
In Mexico City, we’ve actually had a little bit of a protest outside their embassy.
And here’s a video of it!
Beyond that, I couldn’t find too many protests against the Russian Embassy in Latin America but here’s a few more videos of it happening also.
And, because Youtube is stupid, here's a link to protests in Uruguay and Panama that I couldn't get posted on this blog.
Outside, of protesting the Russian Embassy anyway, one thing I did notice is a strong backlash from the Cuban community against Russia as you can see here.
“But risking detention, many Cubans have rejected the war on social media and in messages to the Ukrainian Embassy in Havana.
The volume of the calls has been so “extraordinary,” the embassy said, that it asked Cubans to send their messages of support to a dedicated email address to clear the phone lines for those seeking information about their family members trapped in Ukraine.”
“More than 300 members of Cuba’s independent civil society signed a statement supporting the Ukrainian people, activist Saily Gonzalez said. The letter was sent to the embassy via email on Sunday.”
“A Cuban activist, Pablo Enrique Delgado Hernández, was detained and interrogated Saturday after leaving roses at the Ukrainian Embassy in Havana in a show of solidarity. A Ukrainian diplomat had to escort him and pick up the flowers because the Cuban security officers guarding the embassy did not allow him to get closer to the building, Delgado Hernandez said on Twitter after he was arrested.”
“Social media chatter among Cubans about Ukraine’s lifting visa requirements for all foreigners wanting to fight against Russia was picking up on Tuesday. As the Cuban economy sinks and the crackdown on civil liberties continues, thousands of Cubans have recently left the island through countries that do not ask Cubans for travel visas. The Ukrainian Embassy in Havana promptly clarified that Cubans would need transit visas to reach Ukraine by land through a neighboring European country.”
Next, we have this article here about protests in Argentina and Ecuador against Russia.
“Cientos de personas se manifestaron el domingo (06.03.2022) en Buenos Aires, Ciudad de México y Quito para pedir el fin de la invasión de Rusia en Ucrania.”
Next, here’s an article about a protest led by Ukrainians in Costa Rica against Russia also.
Now, to be fair, I could go all day looking up the response of the locals in Latin America to this conflict.
It seems to be that Latin Americans are not pouring away Russian vodka bottles as much and are doing more of a “protest outside of the embassy” response.
Though, to be fair, as you can see here, it’s not always Latin Americans doing the protesting but plenty of Ukrainians or foreigner expats from other countries like the US also.
In contrast to the US, UK and other countries, I couldn’t find any examples though of big name Latin American bands or authors releasing statements against this conflict.
Maybe a statement by Daddy Yankee, Residente, Tego Calderon or anyone?
Hell, it doesn’t even have to be reggaeton – perhaps a statement by Soda Stereo?
So, if you can find a statement by any famous Latin Americans who are not involved in politics, throw it my way and I’ll drop it here.
Anyway, that’s enough for now regarding the response by normal Latin Americans.
Though this is this interesting video of this Chilean dude traveling to help Ukrainian refugees.
Next up, let’s ask ourselves if there could be any potential political changes down the road in Latin America?
Political Changes in Latin America?
First, let’s address Mexico and Peru as examples only in terms of how this war is having a political impact in Latin America.
Perhaps because I live in Mexico, I’m a tiny bit more aware of domestic politics going on over here.
One question in particular I would have is how much does this play out in elections domestically.
As you can see here, a potential contender for the 2024 Mexican Presidential Election is using this moment to critique AMLO’s response to the crisis.
Now, to be fair, I’m pretty confident that this specific crisis and AMLO’s response to it will determine the 2024 election.
Unless this conflict escalates to a literal conflict between NATO and Russia like you can see here, then I doubt it will impact Mexico’s next election.
In fact, I’m 75% confident that Morena will win 2024 but time will tell.
Having said that, the economic impacts of the war in Ukraine, which we will discuss in greater detail soon, have also had economic and political impacts for other Latin countries and their Presidents.
Specifically, the impact of the war has seemingly had an economic and political impact in Peru where people are protesting quite heavily against the rising costs associated with the war as you can see here (among other reasons for their protests). Ultimately, it seems to be a political challenge for their current President, Pedro Castillo and the situation has escalated where even a curfew was imposed.
"The demonstrations against rising fuel and fertilizer prices, caused initially by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, entered their second week on Monday, and had expanded into full-fledged anti-government protests in several regions, with at least four deaths tied to the unrest.
While most of the violence in recent days had taken place outside the capital, a minister in Mr. Castillo’s cabinet said on Tuesday that the decision to impose a curfew across Lima had been based on information from a far-right lawmaker, Jorge Montoya, a former marine officer who just a week ago supported a second failed attempt to impeach the president."
So, outside of Mexico and Peru, I’ll leave it at that as an open question regarding how this crisis could impact politically Latin American countries.
Second, we have the issue regarding changing developments in US-Venezuelan-relations as I casually referenced before in this article.
This is probably the biggest political development out there. It could turn out to be nothing or have some considerable impact.
As you can read here, oil prices have gone up since the war and the sanctions and US President Joe Biden has established formal talks with the Venezuelan government regarding energy concerns. These high-level talks haven’t been seen since the 1990s.
“The talks with Venezuela, which has enormous proven oil reserves, assumed new urgency after President Biden announced Tuesday that the United States would ban Russian oil and gas imports because of the invasion. That move is expected to further tighten the availability of crude oil on the global market, and could raise gas prices at a moment when inflation has climbed at its fastest pace in 40 years.”
Right away, these talks assumingly have had some success as Venezuela released US prisoners as you can read in the source cited above.
Though, to be fair to the US side, there has been some pushback against the idea that the release of the prisoners have any connection to concerns about oil prices and energy as the last source states here:
“American officials said that the prisoner release was not part of a deal with Venezuela to restart oil sales to the United States, which were banned under the Trump administration. For weeks, American business people who have worked in Venezuela have had back-channel discussions about resuming America’s oil trade with Mr. Maduro’s government.”
Still, I think most folks can see that energy does have importance to these talks as Venezuela is a large provider of oil (though its oil isn’t of the highest quality as you can read here).
Still, some could critique the US approach to this matter. While getting more oil from Venezuela into the US and world economy is important, there’s been plenty of observations made that it wouldn’t help prices too much in the short term at least as you can see here.
“Venezuela could eventually help make up some of the shortfall caused by the ban on Russian oil. But industry experts warned that Venezuelan oil supplies would do little to tame American gas prices and inflation quickly. Increasing the country’s production may take time after the years of mismanagement and underinvestment that have decimated the country’s energy sector.”
Still, there’s some initial optimism to be had regarding the benefits that Venezuela could bring to the table as you can read here.
“Venezuela’s oil output could rise by at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) if the United States authorizes requests by state-run PDVSA’s partners to trade Venezuelan crude, the country’s petroleum chamber said on Friday.
The increase would allow the OPEC member’s oil production, which in January averaged 755,000 bpd according to official figures, approach some 1.2 million bpd, said the president of Venezuela’s Petroleum Chamber, Reinaldo Quintero.”
Outside of economics though, one could argue that there are geopolitical motivations on the US side also.
One could see similarities to when former US President Obama (along with VP Biden at the time) tried to re-establish relations with Cuba as you can read here.
While that ultimately did not work for various reasons (including Trump going back on the progress made), I do think something similar is going on here (especially when you consider it all within the context of the last few months).
Regarding the context especially, it was Russia in January of 2022 who threatened to have a military deployment to both Cuba and Venezuela if concerns about NATO expansion in Europe were not addressed as you can read here.
“Russia raised the stakes Thursday in its dispute with the West over Ukraine and NATO’s expansion when a top diplomat refused to rule out a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if tensions with the United States escalate.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the U.S. and its allies don’t curtail their military activities on Russia’s doorstep.”
“Ryabkov led a Russian delegation in talks with the U.S. on Monday. The negotiations in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels took place in response to a significant Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that the West fears might be a prelude to an invasion.”
Perhaps to the surprise of nobody, the US is now seemingly more interested, after the invasion of Ukraine as tensions are much higher, to establish firmer ground with Venezuela.
Though, to be fair, we shouldn’t just consider the interests of the US in these talks between the US and Venezuela.
Based on my novice understanding of it all, it seems like the interests of Venezuela can be combined into three main topics: selling oil again to the US, reducing the sanctions and now addressing the reality that selling to Russia will be even more costly given the sanctions imposed on Russia as of recently. Here’s a few interesting paragraphs from this bit here on the matter:
“The Venezuelan government wants to resume oil sales to the United States to take advantage of high oil prices and to replace the revenues from trade channels it built through the Russian financial system that have been frozen by Western nations to punish Russian aggression against Ukraine, according to officials and oil businessmen in the country.
Selling directly to the United States would also allow Mr. Maduro to reap full profits from the highest oil prices in more than a decade, instead of selling the crude at deep discount to a network of middlemen used to bypass the U.S. ban, they said.”
Outside of these reasons though, two other benefits that Venezuela gains from establishing better relations with the US can be seen here:
“Another topic discussed was resuming flights between the US and Venezuela, which would help lessen the South American country’s isolation.
The return to commercial relations could happen by lifting sanctions or the issuance of special licenses to US companies such as Chevron, to allow them to resume operations in four oil fields in Venezuela.”
“But he adds that in terms of trade, Russia supplies 80% of the wheat that Venezuela consumes. The war could lead to shortages in a country that is already facing a food crisis.”
Still, for obvious reasons as Venezuela (like Cuba) has had a rough relationship with the US for a long time and establishing a relationship again might prove to be tricky (especially after these incidents here).
On top of that, one could argue that no country can reliably trust the US to always keep its word on any agreement as we can see with the case of Iran here.
Finally, you have the fact that leftist Latin American leaders tend to use the US as a scapegoat and/or bogyman as you can see here.
There are many more examples I could bring up of that and, despite what you think of Bush or any US President or if these Latin American leftist leaders are justified in their rhetoric, it’s a fact that their form of domestic politics can obviously make it more difficult to establish relationships with the US.
It’s a topic I wrote more about here.
And, perhaps for other reasons, it’s understandable why, at least on the Venezuelan side, it would make more sense to “play both sides” where they consider better relations with the US but keep Russia close to them also as this article put it nicely here.
“One day, Nicolás Maduro gives Vladimir Putin his unconditional support over Russia’s war against Ukraine. The next, the Venezuelan leader tones down his support for the Russian president and calls for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine – a move that came just after he received the highest-level US delegation to visit Venezuela since 1999. But four days later, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has her picture taken with “good friend,” Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, at a meeting in Turkey, which was reportedly about bilateral relations. This is how Venezuela is playing both sides in the war against Ukraine.”
On the flip side, you also have domestic political challenges in the US that complicate establishing a relationship with Venezuela under Maduro.
As an American, I can summarize the main talking points I have heard many against Biden establishing a stronger relationship with Venezuela as follows:
- The US should use more domestic oil instead of being more dependent on Venezuela.
- Venezuela is socialist and also an authoritarian government that we shouldn’t support.
Outside of those two points anyway, you also have Cuban Americans like Rubio (and Venezuelan Americans obviously) who are very outspoken against the idea as you can see here (and whose points, expressed on bipartisan concerns actually, are common in the US).
At any rate, this domestic political opposition among both Democrats and Republicans, as you can read here, has posed as a noticeable challenge to Biden’s efforts to establish firmer relationships with Venezuela.
Interesting enough, we have this comment I found online posing a similar point of view regarding the domestic challenges to the US making an agreement:
"As you mentioned, there was a meeting between U.S. and Venezuelan officials about sanctions to release oil, but I imagine those would have come with substantive concessions toward political pluralism that Maduro and company were not prepared to give, without which there won’t be political appetite to change standing policy in U.S. (Florida)."
Though, it contrast to that point of view, I would point out that the US has a history of sometimes forgiving the authoritarian nature of certain governments or entities (Saudi Arabia now, Pinochet in Chile, etc) when it favored the US geopolitically.
Given the intense geopolitical nature of this conflict in Ukraine, it wouldn't surprise me if the US did the same for Venezuela.
As of April 4, 2022, the latest updates that I can find on the situation can be seen in this article here that was published on May 31, 2022.
"Venezuela's state-run energy firm PDVSA is in talks to buy and lease several oil tankers amid a possible expansion in exports, according to three sources and a document seen by Reuters, a sign the country expects U.S. sanctions on its petroleum sector to be eased."
Still, time will tell what extra developments come out of these negotiations beyond just US prisoners being released.
It does though pose as a significant political change in Latin America if anything were to come of it but, as I said, time will tell and I can’t tell you with certainty what changes will come.
Finally, as a last note while sticking to Venezuela, there is always the possibility that, regardless of how the talks go with the US, the current crisis in Ukraine obviously has increased the global price of oil as you can read here.
“Oil prices climbed 8% on Thursday, extending a series of wild daily swings, as the market rebounded from several days of losses with a renewed focus on supply shortages in coming weeks due to sanctions on Russia.”
“In the last eight trading sessions, Brent oil per barrel has traded as high as $139 and as low as $98 - a more than $40 spread.”
Given the importance of oil to Venezuela’s economy as you can see here, these price increases will at least have a short term boost to the Venezuelan economy and the stability of its political leadership in the short term (which, to be fair, isn't considering its long term future over decades).
“Oil sales make up 99 percent of export earnings and roughly one-quarter of gross domestic product (GDP).”
In fact, one could argue that in the short term, due to these rising oil prices, Venezuela has less incentive to agree to any deal with the US during their negotiations. Though, for obvious reasons, it would benefit Venezuela to lift them and they seem to think show as seen during the talks.
Anyway, having touched on economics a bit in this section as we addressed Venezuela, let’s now jump into that topic.
Economic Changes in Latin America?
First, we already addressed Venezuela as it comes to their potential opening to sell oil to the US, how oil prices are rising that will could benefit Venezuela, their ability to sell to Russia being more limited now due to sanctions and also their dependency on Russia wheat that is now under risk as talked about in the last section.
So let’s move on from Venezuela now!
What about other Latin American countries?
Well, in good news, we at least have this information here for anyone concerned about the tortilla price in Chiapas of Mexico!
“Circula en redes sociales, uno de esos tan famosos “memes” que señala que la guerra en Ucrania no afectará el precio de la tortilla en Chiapas, como una manera de ilustrar cuán lejano se percibe el conflicto, pero más allá de las consecuencias económicas a corto y mediano plazo, los mexicanos ya tenemos una primera consecuencia de la cual preocuparnos.”
In all seriousness though, it has been a mini discussion in Mexico regarding how this conflict will impact the country economically.
For example, as you can see here, there has been discussion that the impact could hurt inflation in Mexico for the time being.
“México corre riesgo de sufrir todavía más inflación por la guerra en Ucrania. La guerra en Ucrania tiene por el momento un efecto limitado en la economía mexicana, poco dependiente del gigante ruso, aunque el impacto colateral en los precios de las materias primas amenazan con disparar la ya muy elevada inflación.”
On top of that, we’ve also had the concern regarding how it’ll impact the price of petroleum as you can see here.
“Magaña explicó que la guerra en Ucrania no afecta directamente al precio de la gasolina que consumimos en México, pero sí existen efectos negativos en nuestro país por el alza en el precio del petróleo y explicó: “México ya no es uno de los grandes productores de petróleo a nivel mundial.”
Though, as you can see here, the Mexican President AMLO assures us all that it won’t be a problem.
Despite his reassurances though, we have the fact that inflation is now causing interest rates in Mexico to increase as you can see here.
"Banxico confirmed it raised rates by 50 points to 6.5%."
"The bank's move was based on the risk of inflation expectations rising further, as well as "the challenges posed by the ongoing tightening of global monetary and financial conditions, and the greater environment of significant uncertainty and greater inflationary pressures associated with the geopolitical conflict," it said in the statement."
And, as we'll mention soon after, inflation is expected to hit the rest of Latin America and who so it wouldn't be a surprise if other Latin American countries increased their interest rates also.
In fact, as I update this article in April 2022, Chile also raised its interest rates by 150 basis points to 5.5% as you can see here.
Beyond inflation and interest rates though, we have more speculative matters regarding exchange rates and the stock market as you can see here.
“El segundo es por una posible presión en el tipo de cambio, por la incertidumbre la mayor parte de las monedas pierde terreno frente al dólar y eso afecta en la pérdida del peso, lo que repercute en más inflación; el tercer elemento son las bolsas de valores, donde la incertidumbre hace que exista una caída bursátil que afecte la mexicana”
Next, as we saw with the situation in Venezuela, we also have the issue of wheat impacting Mexico’s economy also given Russia & Ukraine are vital for wheat production in the world as you can see here.
“According to Germany's Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, Ukraine's wheat production accounts for 11.5% of the world market, while Russia's share is 16.8%.”
And, to be fair, that doesn’t even take into account all the wheat that Russia produces.
On top of that, one can expect the price of fertilizer to go up which can also impact agricultural production in countries like Brazil. Therefore, for countries around the world like in Mexico, that could perhaps increase prices also for food if I'm understanding it right according to this source here.
For an English translation of that article last cited, here's another one that explains it also here:
"Economically, rising prices for both energy and agricultural commodities will negatively impact local economies in the middle term. Countries like Brazil will have difficulties accessing certain goods such as fertilizers. "
In relation to Mexico as an example for Latin America anyway, one could easily see how this impacts inflation in the country just like with gasoline prices.
One interesting bit to consider also is how this could impact Mexico and other Latin American countries in relation to a recession.
After all, these pressures don’t just impact Mexico and Latin America but also impact US and the European Union (along with the rest of the world economy).
We have articles like this one here talking about the risk of recession.
“War fallout: U.S. economy to slow, Europe risks recession and Russia to suffer double-digit decline”
″…The consequences of a complete shut-off of Russia’s 4.3 (million barrels per day) of oil exports to the US and Europe would be dramatic,″ JPMorgan wrote over the weekend. “To the extent that this disengagement gathers steam, the size and length of the disruption — and thus the shock to global growth— will build.”
Given that Mexico and Latin America tend to export a lot to the rest of the world, you have to wonder how that’ll impact their economies if the economies in “the West” begin to slow down considerably or even go into a recession as you can see here.
“En cuarto lugar, argumentó que Rusia y Ucrania son los proveedores de granos y energéticos de la Unión Europea, por lo que puede haber cierta desaceleración económica y quizás una recesión en Europa si esto se prolonga, “eso puede afectar las exportaciones de México hacia la Unión Europea y las de EU, lo que afecte la manufactura mexicana”.
Though, to be fair, I have no idea if Europe really actually enter a recession but, without question, this conflict will slow the global economy down and that will hurt Mexico and broader Latin America.
And I get that obviously there are more countries to Latin America than just Mexico but I say “broader Latin America” in that I’m just using Mexico as an example here.
Truth be told, many of these negative effects to Mexico’s economy should be seen across most (if not all) of the remaining region of Latin America.
Those effects being the increasing price of gasoline, wheat, less financial support from Russia for certain countries like Nicaragua or Cuba, the impact on exports to other countries due to a slowing global economy and more.
Of course, every Latin American country has a different economy with varying trade partners but there is no question that most (if not all) Latin American countries should see some negative impact from this war given its impact on the global economy.
In short, Mexico simply makes for a good example to generalize some of the more typical impacts that we can expect to see in other countries.
For example, we have the impact of inflation that was already seen before the conflict and will likely get worse afterwards as you can see here.
"Food and energy prices are the main channel for spillovers, which will be substantial in some cases. High commodity prices are likely to significantly quicken inflation for Latin America and the Caribbean, which already faces an 8 percent average annual rate across five of the largest economies: Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. Central banks may have to further defend inflation-fighting credibility."
For even more information on how it could impact the economy of the region regarding inflation, check out this great source here.
“The short point is that the recent rally in commodity prices will help external sectors across Latin America, but this positive impact on economic growth will be more than offset by further rises in inflation which will squeeze real incomes and household spending,” said Capital Economics Latin America economist Nikhil Sanghani. “Central banks will also respond with additional rate hikes in the coming months which will be an additional drag on activity.”
Russian forces entered Ukraine early Thursday morning in what the latter country branded a “full-scale” invasion, sparking a rally in some commodity prices, among them grains, oil and metals. The overall impact of the crisis will also hinge largely on what sanctions the West slaps on Russia.
In terms of commodities, Latin American grain and oil exporters should benefit from sustained price tailwinds while higher energy prices could pile pressure on net energy importers, feeding into inflation.
Michael Heydt, a senior VP at rating agency DBRS Morningstar, told BNamericas: “Sharply higher prices for oil, metals and agricultural goods benefit Latin America’s large net commodity exporters, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia – it also hurts the region’s net commodity importers, such as those in Central America and the Caribbean."
For those curious though, I also included various videos here below from the news down here in Latin America regarding the impact of the war in various countries.
Finally, one other interesting effect regarding the impact that this conflict could have on Latin America is something I found here:
"Heightened FX volatility: As with any major global event that introduces uncertainty in global financial markets, investors tend to reduce their risk exposure, which benefits USD-denominated assets (aka flight to safety). This will happen in an environment in which emerging-market currencies were under additional pressure from faster-than-expected monetary tightening in the US. Add political uncertainty to the mix because of elections in Colombia and Brazil, political transitions in Peru and Chile, and lingering concerns about the Argentina-IMF deal, and you have the perfect storm for LATAM currencies to remain weak or continue to depreciate, at least in the short run."
Let’s move forward anyhow onto “miscellaneous” points or “last minute impacts” as I’ll call them that I’ve come across anyhow regarding how this war could impact Latin America.
Miscellaneous Impact: Diplomatic Pressure from Uncle Sam
Outside of greater impacts on Latin America surrounding politics and economics, you also have “miscellaneous” impacts that are worth mentioning.
This is a political point anyhow but a brief one given there isn’t much to cover.
Ever since the invasion started, you’ve had efforts by the US government to pressure other governments against offering any support whatsoever to Russia.
Outside of Latin America, you’ve had “uncomfortable differences” between Joe Biden and India as you can see here.
I say “uncomfortable differences” because, in many ways, India is part of Joe Biden’s “containment strategy” against China as you can see here.
And so they obviously can’t piss India off too much (and, if you knew history, India has always had a relationship with the USSR/Russia for decades now as you can see here).
Within Latin America, you’ve seen similar pressures anyhow against other countries like in the case of Brazil here.
“The United States is putting pressure on Brazil in a bid to have President Jair Bolsonaro’s upcoming visit to Russia cancelled, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on January 31, citing Brazilian Foreign Ministry sources.
According to the paper, Washington’s aim is to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the current situation in Russia-NATO relations and Ukraine-related developments. The report says the US diplomats expressed their concerns about the timeframe of the visit, because, in their opinion, the meeting of the Russian and Brazilian presidents would signal Brazil’s support to Russia’s policies in Eastern Europe and legitimize what Washington sees as violations of the international law.”
At any rate, it doesn’t seem like any other Latin American country has gotten the ire of Uncle Sam in regards to this conflict as I write this on March 24, 2022.
Poor Brazil – all alone in the hot seat!
I’m sure a caipirinha will cheer them up!
Well, to be fair, I’m sure it’s just a minor diplomatic tension and nothing more so let’s move on.
Miscellaneous Impact: Russian Vaccines Helped?
Having lived in Latin America and having not left since Covid started, I remember all too well the news regarding Russian vaccines making their way to the region early on.
In fact, I remember getting into a mini argument with a Mexican guy I knew a year or so ago regarding which country has helped Latin America more: the US or Russia.
In the moment, I clearly remembered the US pledging more vaccines to help Latin America than what Russia could offer and finding information to back that up in the moment.
Regardless of if that actually serves to be true to this day or not is not the point though.
The point is that, at least to this one particular individual of Latin America, the impact of the Russian help left a positive impression.
One could ask then how much has “vaccine diplomacy” helped Russia in not lose too much support despite its activities in Ukraine.
As I wrote here, you’ve had China play the same game in other countries of Latin America before where their own donations have left a positive impression also.
Still, I am a little bit skeptical of this idea given that, as we saw in the diplomacy section of this article, how most Latin American countries either condemned Russia or called for Russia to pull back its activities.
Still, diplomacy is diplomacy and previous actions can carry forward rewards into the future.
Maybe or maybe not the impact of the vaccines had an impact on the thinking of places like Brazil, El Salvador and so on.
It’s an idea anyway to toss out there to contemplate as, over the time living here since Covid started, I do feel the need to mention it as I live in Latin America and have seen, on numerous occasions, the positive impressions that Russia’s vaccine efforts had on the local people down here (in Mexico City at least).
Miscellaneous Impact: Russians & Ukrainians Abroad in Latin America
Next, you have people from Russia that have either been living here as expats that now have trouble with money due to the sanctions and you have folks from Russia and Ukraine who either fled down here or are trapped here.
First, among the “expat community,” here is one example of people discussing financial problems of Russians or Ukrainians down here in Latin America that have been expats or immigrants.
Finally, we have some articles regarding Russians being trapped here in Latin America due to issues with getting back home.
First, we have this article here regarding “17,000 Russians and Ukrainians stuck in the Dominican Republic.”
“About 15,000 Russian and 2,000 Ukrainian tourists are stuck in the Dominican Republic due to travel restrictions imposed after Moscow's invasion of its neighbour, the government in Santo Domingo said on Wednesday.
The Caribbean country said it had reached a deal with hotel chains to “guarantee” the tourists' accommodation “until such time as a solution is found “.
“Russian airline Aeroflot on Monday suspended the sale of tickets to Cuba, Mexico and the US while Azur Air halted flights to Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Prensa Latina reported.”
Second, you have the issue of Russians and Ukranians trying to get into the US from Mexico as you can read here.
“Russians trying to enter the United States at the Mexican border are frustrated they are not getting in like Ukrainians are, despite leaving their homeland over the invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. officials have let dozens of Ukrainians through this week but Russians remain in limbo, prompting some to camp on the pavement alongside a barbed wire border fence, defying warnings from Mexican authorities to leave.”
“As the Russians wait, U.S. border officials have also turned away asylum seekers from Nigeria, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, sparking complaints of unfair treatment.”
Perhaps more interesting, as you can see in that last sentence and in the article broadly speaking, is the inconsistency some have noted regarding US policy towards immigrants from other Latin American countries (and Nigeria) and Ukraine.
Third, as you can see in the videos below here, you’ve also had plenty of Ukrainian refugees arriving to Latin America to live here.
At any rate, that’s all I could find quickly enough within 30 minutes. I’m sure there’s other content out there regarding how this conflict has changed the movement of people into Latin America, leaving some stranded and others looking to arrive here.
What other “miscellaneous” effects could be talked about?
Miscellaneous Impact: More Latino-Russian Love to Come?
Next, can we hope that somehow love comes out of this war?
Be it real love or Telenovela love?
I don’t have much to say here because there’s less evidence online to suggest that any “love” could come out of this but it’s an idea I’ve run across online as I’ve thought about the various impacts that this war could potentially have on Latin America.
Specifically, we have this article here that throws a bone to the idea.
“First of all, what happens with Russia and Ukraine does not really affect Latin America or the its expat community.
However I have mentioned, somewhere in this corner of the metaverse, that I know a Peruvian whose brother married a Russian internet bride. She looked exactly like what you would think a Russian internet bride looks like. I’ve since learned of another case. This second woman wasn’t an internet bride per se. She met a Peruvian friend of a friend who was in Russia on business (government business, of course), and they were betrothed. He brought her to Peru and secured her a resident visa. She soon dumped him, and then stayed in Lima. Brave new world. Despite its troubles, Peru rich AF.
Russia’s GDP per capita is higher than Peru’s, but this may be paper wealth (petrostate fallacy) and not indicative of real wealth in people’s lives. Otherwise, how do you explain Russian internet brides escaping for Peru by marrying men unseen? Maybe it’s a rural Russia vs. Lima thing, but that’s speculation. I have no idea where the Russian women were from.”
Then we have this comment here on a previous article I wrote.
“The one place where Latinos (as in Latin Americans rather than Spaniards…) get loadsa love is Russia and the Ukraine, this is because of when the wall came down and during the years of Glasnost – Russian TV was full of telenovelas from Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina etc and if you add their friends forever relationship with Cuba – then you have a complete love in with those cultures.
You can actually look this up but when the World Cup was in Russia in 2018, there were football fans from Mexico, Peru, Colombia etc who found love with local Russian women…”
With that same comment pointing out a few examples of Latino-Russian love finding its way as you can read from those examples here and here.
Outside of Russian-Latino love though, I’ve also seen plenty of people on Twitter either make jokes about or actually post screenshots of their attempts to “woo” Ukrainian women on online dating websites like Ukrainian Cupid.
If you ALSO wish to get yourself a hot, sexy Trad Ukrainian Refugee wife or a Conquering Russian Wife (with rubbles as valuable as toilet paper), the link to such a dating website is right here for Ukrainians and this is the one here for Russians.
In all seriousness anyhow, will we see some major resurgence of Latino-Russian love?
I could see it!
I have my doubts that it would be so prominent that it’d be a common trend that you’d see among couples here and, perhaps for obvious reasons, I see it more common among Latino men getting Russian or Ukrainian women than Latina women with Russian or Ukrainian men,
In large part because, if I had to guess, your average dude from Ukraine or Russia (especially Russia) is probably broke as fuck right now and being a broke man is less appealing to women whereas local men down (at least those few with a decent job) here who ain’t getting no pussy can FINALLY get some ASS (refugee ass for the win, YOLO).
Reminds me of this funny meme here.
Either way, that’s all I got to say on the matter since I couldn’t find any stories or data on how many more women (or men) are coming for love to Latin America from that region.
Given we are only a month into the war as of this writing, I imagine we got to give it a little more time before the cool stories come out.
So let’s move forward!
Miscellaneous Impact: Tourism!
Similar to Mexico being used an example for broader Latin America on a wide range of upcoming economic issues, we’ll use the Dominican Republic as a good example here for this issue.
That issue being in regards to the impact on tourism!
As we all know, plenty of Latin American countries take in a decent bit of revenue from tourism alone.
With the war in Ukraine, would this impact the economy in any Latin American countries?
Well, let’s look at this interesting article here regarding the impact it is suggested to have on the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic.
“The economist and business consultant, Henri Hebrard, projected that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring very negative consequences for tourism, the economy, and the Dominican Republic’s budgetary stability.
He explained that tourism would be hit hard since, in 2021, the two countries together contributed 269,612 tourists to the country. In January of this year 2022, 49,215 arrived from Russia and 13,749 from Ukraine, for a total of 332,576 travelers from these destinations in 13 months.
He indicated that “if the economic sanctions of the United States and Europe against Russia are very extreme, this could affect Russian tourism to the Dominican Republic, which is the main destination from these countries.”
He declared that from Ukraine, 15,000 tourists arrive monthly, and it is the fifth most important country for the DR from Europe, above Italy and the United Kingdom, and only surpassed by Russia, Germany, France, and Spain.”
At any rate, that’s just one country’s example!
I’m sure this war won’t impact AS MUCH the economy of Paraguay or Uruguay and so obviously every country is different.
We do have the case of Cuba also being impacted economically by this also as you can see here.
Just one thing to consider beyond the “typical economic” effects discussed already when looking at Mexico as the example.
And, with that, there’s another curious effect that I found interesting.
Miscellaneous Impact: Rising Gold Prices?
For any country or individual with an investment in gold, this might be your time to shrine.
In relation to Latin America, we have this article here detailing the importance of this to the region with select quotes to look at below:
“And despite volatility in part due to profit-taking by investors, the precious metal has held its ground above US$1,900/oz, closing at US$1,920/oz on Tuesday, up from around US$1,800/oz at the end of January.”
“With the current inflationary pressures rising and the crisis resulting from Russia’s illegal invasion of a sovereign nation, it seems highly plausible that gold could reach over US$2,000/oz,” he added.”
“At times like this it’s always important to have some gold in your portfolio, and... we are immediately long on gold. That’s a positive for gold miners.”
Global gold production has stagnated in recent years as few major new mines have entered production, with output at 3,000t in 2021, down 30t from the previous year, according to data from the US Geological Survey.
Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are Latin America’s main gold producers, with output ranging from 50-100t last year.”
Of course, one could ask if the increase in gold prices really offsets the other negative financial impacts already discussed.
In the case of the Dominican Republic, as you can see here, it apparently does not.
“He stated that the only positive aspect from the point of view of the Dominican economy is that the price of gold has skyrocketed to almost two thousand dollars an ounce, although it would not compensate for the increase that would occur in cereals and oil.”
Miscellaneous Impact: An Inspiration Against Authoritarianism?
During the Cold War, it was the Cuban Revolution and its success that inspired many other revolutions in Latin America and around the world.
Today, you don't really have as many authoritarian governments in Latin America outside of a few (though, in some countries like Mexico, you've had reports of their democracy faltering a bit supposedly).
Regardless, one could wonder if the ability of the Ukrainian resistance to hold off the Russians for so long could give inspiration to others to fight authoritarianism?
In particular, we have this quote here that inspired the idea.
"Lastly, Ukraine’s stiff resistance and heroic efforts against a more powerful Russian army could galvanize opposition movements fighting for political liberty in their own countries of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. If nothing else, this moment serves as a reminder of the importance of doing more to support those fighting for democratic governance in the Western Hemisphere."
Personally, I'm not sure I agree with this.
For one, Ukraine has received a massive amount of assistance.
It's no guarantee that any "liberation" forces or whatever you'd want to call them would get the same amount of support in Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba.
Though if we were to see the world go into a Second Cold War as I'll talk more about soon below, I could see the US being interested in supporting such movements to some degree to stick it to countries hostile to us.
Even if we didn't have a Second Cold War, I could still see it as, during times when the US isn't facing geopolitical pressures from Russia or China, there has been at times efforts by the US to undermine dictatorships elsewhere (though for various reasons being humanitarian to be fair).
Still, if a Second Cold War were to happen and let's say that the US establishes better relations with Venezuela, then I'd doubt we support any efforts in Venezuela if we someday saw them as an ally under tense geopolitical conditions.
Anyway, regardless of how the future holds out, I'm not sure I buy this point that what is happening in Ukraine will inspire anything in Latin America but it's entirely possible!
Similar things have happened before.
And, to be fair, if Russia turns out weaker from this conflict, that also means it'll have less ability to support authoritarian governments like in Nicaragua or Cuba.
While Cuba has survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and isn't anywhere as dependent on Russia like they were decades ago, having a weaker Russia with less ability to support them can provide less support to their governments if they have more damaging protests in the future like we saw in Cuba not too long ago.
But it's hard to say definitely that it would happen or not. Only time will tell.
Still an idea that I found interesting just to throw out there for you all to ponder.
Miscellaneous Impact: The Future World Currency?
If held true, this would be one of the biggest changes to both Latin American politics and economics.
But, as I’ve said before, understand that nothing said here is absolute and, at this point in the article, I’m just entertaining different ideas thrown out there regarding potential impacts on Latin America from this conflict as I enjoy a good thought experiment from time to time.
Anyway, the idea is actually something expressed more often these days by “right wing” politicians, journalists, Twitter mini-celebrities, talking heads on TV and more.
You can see the idea originally expressed here.
That idea being that the US sanctions on Russia will push Russia towards China even more and even become dependent on China.
In doing so, these sanctions are only speeding up the process for other powerful countries, like Russia and China, to trade in their own currencies and move away from the dollar.
In recent days, you even had other countries, like Saudi Arabia, publicly announce an interest in the Chinese Yuan as you can see here.
If such a scenario would happen, I could see every American elite all of a sudden interested in Saudi Arabia’s roll in 9/11 and/or inventing a reason to bomb their country into the stone age.
On top of that, you've had other developments giving some weight to the idea beyond the words of Tucker Carlson as you can see here.
"The war in Ukraine and Russia's effective exclusion from the global currency system could be an opportunity for China to raise the profile of its currency in a challenge to the U.S. dollar, a senior Taiwanese security official said on Monday.
Russia has said it is counting on China to help it withstand the blow to its economy from Western sanctions, and will use Chinese yuan from its foreign exchange reserves after the sanctions blocked its access to its U.S. dollars and euros reserves."
Still, to be fair, the predictions regarding the “demise of the USD” have been around longer than I have been alive.
Obviously, there will be a day where that demise happens in the same way that there’ll be a day that the US doesn’t exist anymore and humanity goes extinct.
….and there’ll be a day my favorite Castiza Latina porn stars fuck me but hey who is waiting?
Anyway, are these concerns legitimate for the now?
Are the US sanctions on Russia speeding up the process of the demise of the USD as the world reserve currency?
Honestly, I have no idea.
In theory, their ideas sound logical but I guess it depends on how much trust the average person has in the Yuan for example.
Obviously, they’re not going for Rubbles these days, are they?
But, as you can see here or here, I guess not everyone trusts the Chinese Yuan very well either given the style of government backing it and its policies that don’t provide much transparency behind the currency.
But, on the flip side, you got opinions who say the opposite as you can see here.
Truth be told, I honestly have no idea if this crisis in Ukraine is speeding up the demise of the USD or not.
I’m simply throwing it out there as “another idea” in part because it’s making headlines (admittingly among opponents to Joe Biden though, to be fair) and also because it would have significance for Latin America politically and economically.
For one, I imagine it would make it easier for governments in Latin America to evade US sanctions.
And, on top of that, it would make the US weaker in many ways and a weaker US does give individual Latin American governments more autonomy in acting how they wish (be it authoritarian or not).
Though, given Latin America is right below the US and the US has historically seen the region as its backyard, I do question how much control the US would give away in such a scenario where its currency lost the world reserve status.
At any rate, I’m simply giving “food for thought” to the idea and nothing more.
Something for you to ponder more about if you wish.
And, speaking of last minute major political ramifications to consider, there's a certain narrative I've seen online regarding this conflict that I'd like to address before wrapping this up.
Miscellaneous Impact: Implications for Latin America's Stance on Democracy?
There's a certain discussion I've seen online regarding the implications of Latin America's behavior towards this conflict and what it says about the region's behavior towards speaking out on democracy and human rights in other countries.
Let me offer you some various perspectives on the matter.
First, you have this article here.
"Now that a full-blown Russian invasion is underway, Fernández’s administration has changed its tune. His spokesperson issued a statement Thursday calling for a halt to Russian military action.
While Bolsonaro did not immediately comment, Brazil’s foreign ministry called for a suspension of Russian hostilities, and Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão said Western military force should be used to aid Ukraine. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said in his morning press conference that he opposed the war but did not condemn Russia by name.
Latin American countries have often been hesitant to criticize human rights violations committed by allies, claiming the principle of noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs. But for Argentina, another tenet seems to have overridden that principle in the last 48 hours: that of anti-imperialism. While all Latin American countries have colonial pasts, Argentina claims it battled a more recent imperial incursion during the 1982 Falklands War against the United Kingdom.
Many other Latin American leaders—including the presidents of Uruguay, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as the president-elect of Chile—condemned Putin’s actions. Meanwhile, some foreign ministries—such as those of Peru and Bolivia—called for general de-escalation in more lukewarm statements."
The article then goes on rightfully pointing out how certain other countries -- Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela -- have expressed more solidarity with Russia during these times.
Next, we have this interesting article here.
"Amongst Latin American governments, there is little consensus about how to approach Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. For the most part, pre-existing interests and alliances reflect the response of each government. The alignment in the conflict is also proof that most countries in the region — and especially the largest and most politically and economically influential — are not falling neatly into bifurcated camps like during the Cold War and reflect Latin American nations’ increasing independence in international affairs. Moreover, and perhaps most concerningly, the equivocal stances by some of the region’s largest democracies calls into question their own commitments to democracy."
That same article then goes onto discuss the authoritarian in places like Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela and the economic, military and political support they have always gotten from Russia.
It then discusses the greater tolerance that some countries, like Brazil or Mexico, seem to have expressed during this conflict with their presidents not outright condemning Russia.
In the end, we are left with a few more interesting quotes to ponder.
"The alignment — or in many cases non-alignment — of many Latin American countries is very different from their Cold War positions."
"The more nuanced stances by many nations in the region — and the possibility of shifts this year depending on elections and other factors — show the region and the world is no longer unipolar or bipolar but multipolar. The nations of the region are showing they think for themselves and will play off competing sides for the best deal."
"The lack of a solid commitment to democratic Ukraine against autocratic Russia, however, could be seen as a sign that many Latin American nations are less committed to democracy."
"....the absence of most Latin American nations firmly on the democratic side leads to inevitable questions about the political direction of much of the region."
There are a few things to mention here as I take in all of these quotes just from my own opinion personally.
First, I question if Latin America is, as a region, less democratic and/or interested in democracy when compared to the Cold War.
My knowledge of the Cold War -- though I am not an expert of it obviously -- makes me think of all of the dictatorships, civil wars and coups during the time period (many supported by the US due to its long interference going back to Monroe Doctrine).
While we do have some countries like Cuba or Venezuela that are not democracies and we have seen some setbacks in the democracies of some countries down here, like with Colombia as you can see here, they are still relatively more democratic.
And, as we have seen, the Presidents, VPs or other important diplomatic officials in most countries in Latin America have either condemned Russia or voiced the opinions that Russia should leave Ukraine alone.
On top of that, I ask also how often Latin American countries were really condemning international acts of violence like war in other countries. Perhaps Che Guevara and Fidel Castro had a few words to share in the 60s but how many Latin American leaders were condemning these things back then compared to now?
Truth be told, I don't know the answer to that but, if I had to guess based on what I know, then I'd say it probably wasn't as common.
Second, I don't really like how the author in the second article looked at was contrasting Latin America to countries like Japan, South Korea and more when it comes to this issue.
There's a certain hypocrisy in the world where we care about Ukraine but don't care AS MUCH about what has happened in Ethiopia, Yemen and so on.
Was anyone calling on Latin America to denounce those crimes? Did anyone care?
Why is it that the US -- as shown with India and Brazil -- so concerned about getting everyone on board to denounce Russia?
Could the geopolitical significance of sticking it to Russia have anything to do with it while our economic and military relationship with Saudi Arabia makes it where we aren't as concerned?
To say that Latin America hasn't condemned Russia enough is a sign that the region "might not be so democratic" seems a bit odd to me in that context.
That isn't to say that I agree with what Russia is doing but only find an odd inconsistency here that is likely explainable by, in part, geopolitical interests.
Third, speaking of geopolitics though, I do agree that, as I said before, there is geopolitical significance for the region of Latin America (especially when we compare what is happening to the Cold War).
While I do agree with the author that Latin America has more autonomy these days when compared to the Cold War and that we do live in a more multipolar world where China and Russia can compete with the US in Latin America, I also wonder to myself how much of a repeat of the Cold War will we see.
As we saw with Venezuela, Russia was entertaining sending military assets to the country or maybe Cuba and then the US, perhaps for other reasons also, began increasing diplomatic pressure on Venezuela to establish relations again.
On top of that, it's been mentioned that Russia has been fighting an information war also in Latin America as you can see here.
"Russia’s disinformation campaign and the presence of Russia Today in Spanish-language media are both robust. For days, various hashtags referring to the need to “abolish NATO” trended regionally, even though the region counts several major non-NATO allies (Argentina and Brazil) and one NATO global partner (Colombia)."
Though you could also argue that Russia Today is also a diplomatic tool to promote the viewpoint of the Russian government to Latin America.
"For a long time already, Putin has been working for political backing from Latin America. In 2014, Russian media such as the Sputnik agency and the propaganda channel Russia Today opened offices in Latin America. Since then, they have steadily expanded their Spanish-language coverage. "
"The US bitcoiner Max Keiser, one of Bukeele’s advisors, has aroused by showing up as regular guest on Russia Today and publishing a whole series of tweets – which have since been deleted – against Ukraine."
These are just a few examples anyhow.
If things really got intense in Latin America, I could see the US repeating some of its past behavior in the region. There is a degree to which I question just how "autonomous" Latin America truly is as the author makes the region out to be.
Time will tell anyhow.
Fourth, even if all of Latin America chose not to condemn or support what Russia has done, I wouldn't see that as a bad thing for the region.
Granted, it might piss the US off but, to be fair, if the entire region chose not to comment, that is where I doubt that the US would do anything.
Maybe some diplomatic pressure but that's it.
Strength in numbers and all.
In fact, that's been a point argued before that, in times of crisis like what is happening in Ukraine, it only shows time and time again that the region of Latin America needs to better unify politically and diplomatically to project its interests and not be so easily treated as a pawn in a global power game.
"The role of certain countries in Latin America in the Ukraine crisis is symptomatic of a recurring problem facing the region, whereby it witnesses and even partakes in disputes that are foreign to it and over which it wields no control or influence. This role is not new: it repeats the pattern of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and Nicaragua in the 1980s, and recurs periodically. The root cause lies in the weakness and divisions of its countries and the need for a system of regional governance effective enough to prevent foreign interventions, aggressions and interference."
Either way, I think the author in the second article fails to acknowledge the reality for most Latin American countries.
As we have seen historically like in the Cold War, it doesn't serve your country well to be a proxy ground for major powers.
It just leaves your people dead, dictatorships supported, economies ruined and so on.
Each individual Latin American country isn't so powerful that it can change the course of the war in Ukraine.
For the general welfare of the people in Latin America, I would argue that a policy of non-alignment is better. Similar to Venezuela, you can play both sides for more benefits. Don't do anything to piss any country off.
After all, politics changes all the time and, given Latin American countries don't dominate global politics, they might as well do their best to play the support of larger powers when they can to their benefit.
Like when the US contemplated invading Venezuela years ago and then Venezuela had this happen.
We also have this interesting perspective from a political scientist of Mexico here that expresses a similar viewpoint:
"Federico Estevez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, said the position of López Obrador and Morena hearkens back to 1960s-era leftism, when the Soviet Union was seen as a counterbalance to U.S. dominance in Latin America. They also reflect Mexico’s long-standing resentment of U.S. invasions which eventually cost the country half its territory.
“He doesn’t want to be accused of being knuckled under by the U.S. for the U.S. foreign policy goals,” Estevez said of the president. “It makes sense he would like an anti-imperialist front” like the non-aligned movement of the 1960s and 70s — however unlikely that is to emerge — Estevez said, noting: ”There’s just like nowhere to go, except for rhetorical resistance to U.S. sheep herding in the world.”
Putting it all together anyway, I just find it odd to demand that countries like Mexico should throw in their weight on the conflict based on moral grounds of democracy and human rights when their actions wouldn't impact Russia too greatly, could hurt their own economies (like with Venezuela) and when the real reason for why the US and allies are as concerned about Ukraine is for largely geopolitical reasons.
Anyway,I just don't agree with the last author's stance that this conflict has implications or is illustrative of the region's stance on democracy or human rights.
But I do agree that it is illustrative of the changing geopolitics of the region and how that could -- perhaps unfortunately for Latin America -- intensify in the future.
Anyway, let's wrap this up.
Final Verdict: How Does the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Impact Latin America?
Anyway, we’ve obviously covered plenty of small and big impacts on Latin America from this crisis.
Let's summarize them for you.
Economically, the impacts to be expected are:
- A hit on the tourism sector with less Russian and Ukrainian tourists where some countries, like Cuba, will be more impacted by that then others.
- Rising inflation.
- Higher interest rates already announced in Mexico and Chile and higher interest rates in other Latin American countries wouldn't be a surprise either.
- Countries that export relevant resources like grain and oil will expect to do better economically while those that don't (such as those in Central America) will not have that benefit but also be hit like everyone else with higher inflation.
- The price of gold is going up.
- From my understanding, it seems some countries will have a harder time trading with Russia to some degree.
- Latin American currencies expected to get weaker for various reasons, including how investors tend to go for USD-dominated assets during times of crisis.
- Given the potential for a recession in Europe and a slowing down of economic activity in the US, this will hurt Latin America when it comes to trade and exporting its resources to the region.
And what about political impacts?
- A potential for opening up of US-Venezuelan relations is at stake. No guarantees it will happen but a deal is being sought by both parties. Such a deal could also weaken Russia's geopolitical influence in Latin America.
- Most Latin American countries have taken some diplomatic steps against Russia, including any of the following: denouncing Russia's actions, calling on Russia to leave Ukraine alone and/or voting against Russia at the UN.
- Given a weaker Russia economically and diplomatically, one could expect that this could weaken Russia's ability to support other Latin American allies in the region, including Cuba and Nicaragua. On the flip side, given that the US has exploited this opportunity well, I could also see Russia wanting to take a stab back at the US by increasing its activities in the region. Time will tell.
- Some say that the image of a weak Russia in Ukraine could inspire activities against authoritarian governments in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. That is entirely speculative and we have no idea if that would happen or not until it does.
- Some have argued that the long term impact of this conflict could bring China and Russia together, threatening the USD as the world reserve currency. If that actually happened, many more impacts on Latin America (politically, economically and geopolitically) would happen also beyond the scope of this article.
- You've had a lot of protests against Russia in Latin America outside Russian embassies over this.
- As we have seen in Mexico, the response of Latin American presidents to this conflict could be used as a talking point against them in upcoming elections. Though I don't it'll have much political influence on local elections, it is at least being used as talking point to whatever political effect that will have.
- In other countries like Peru as an example, we have seen massive protests against the government due to, in part, the rising cost of living associated with the war in Ukraine. In Peru, a curfew was even announced. Time will tell what political impacts this has against the Peruvian President and if similar massive protests are ever seen in other Latin American countries that blame their own governments for the rising cost of living that can be associated with, in part, the war in Ukraine (such as as it relates to prices of fuel, fertilizer, food, etc).
- Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the US has been using a lot of diplomatic pressure on countries like Brazil to politically denounce Russia. In Brazil's case, that didn't work.
Finally, outside of the diplomatic, political, economic and geopolitical ramifications, we also mentioned some other miscellaneous issues that don't fall into any of the above camps.
Those other minor impacts being:
- Ukrainian refugees flying into Latin America (with many using Latin America as a way to get to the US).
- Russians being stuck in Latin America or having money issues down here due to the impact of sanctions on their wealth.
- Speculation that this impact could leave plenty of Russian and Ukrainian women looking for love abroad, including to places like Latin America.
That’s all I can say anyhow.
While I can do all the research I wish, I know I don’t share the same room as those who do the negotiations with Venezuela, those who decide the future of the Ukraine war, those who can impact the stability of the USD as a world reserve currency and more.
After all, unless you happen to be someone special, I have as much information as you do.
And, as we all know, current events can become irrelevant when drastic changes happen so quickly.
Perhaps this conflict escalates and all of the impacts above become irrelevant compared to something worse down the road?
How do we know that the following below won’t happen in an hour from now?
Though, as you can see here, the risk is escalating for a potential conflict between NATO and Russia.
While I don't think it would happen, that obviously would have MUCH deeper consequences for Latin America.
Compared to anything else written here, obviously that would be the biggest impact of all on Latin America.
But let's leave that alone unless something happens with that.
So give your own take if you wish below.
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Thanks for reading.
PS: This article was last updated April 4, 2022. All the information in this article reflects that with no knowledge obviously of any new information that has come after this date regarding how the Ukraine war impacts Latin America.