By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Never mind that he has absolutely no diplomatic experience or training.
Never mind that he knows nothing about the current armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
And never mind that he has set as his “chief priority” the objective of making Wikipedia pay more heed to Mexican history (rather than such petty issues as bilateral trade, investment, political cooperation, tourism or cultural exchange).
Yes, Eduardo Villegas Megías, a former history professor and close academic cohort of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his wife (but not First Lady) Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, was ratified by the nation’s Congress on Wednesday, Aug. 3, to be Mexico’s new man in Moscow.
Asked during his vetting process before the Mexico’s Permanent Congressional Committee about his views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Villegas Megías said that he had “not really followed the matter,” but had been taking some Russian language courses over the last few months so that he could better communicate with the Russians as Mexico’s ambassador to Moscow and promote more Russian-language stories in Wikipedia about Mexican history.
Good to know that he has his priorities straight.
But for all his blatant political ignorance and social indifference, Villegas Megías’ appointment (and subsequent congressional approval as Mexico’s ambassador-designate to Moscow) should come as no surprise for those who follow Mexican diplomacy (or, under López Obrador, lack thereof).
Back in January, AMLO chose another of Gutiérrez Müller’s “academic mentors,” National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) professor Pedro Salmerón Sanginés, who had been accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and harassments, as Mexico’s ambassador to Panama.
When Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes bristled at the prospect of an alleged rapist (Sangines had been accused by numerous women of sexual assault both at two separate universities where he had worked, as well as by women within the president’s leftist National Regeneration Movement, or Morena) serving as AMLO’s representative in Panama City, López Obrador — with all the diplomatic savoir faire and decorum of a hyperactive baboon in a china cabinet — accused Mouynes of behaving like someone from the Spanish Inquisition.
Finally, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo had to step in and demand that López Obrador “show some respect” for his foreign minister and country.
After considerable political haggling, AMLO finally decided to switch out Sangines for an equally-unqualified candidate and send his wife’s “close friend” off to a cushy job writing a book about what López Obrador perceives as the history of presidential electoral fraud in Mexico.
Whether or not Villegas Megías ends up “serving” as Mexico’s ambassador in Moscow, the point is that López Obrador has zero understanding or appreciation of international diplomacy.
And while he has managed to create his own little fiefdom of faithful followers here in Mexico, all of whom take his word as gospel, regardless of how absurd, illegal or unconstitutional his decrees may be, López Obrador has, in the international arena, only managed to offend Mexico’s allies and partners.
The list of countries and governments he has offended with his untempered verbal assaults and unfounded allegations continues to grow day-by-day.
López Obrador has made no secret of his desire to thrust Mexico back 100 years into a pro-communist, anti-foreign, blindly nationalistic protectionism that will stunt — and has already stunted — economic growth and democratic values.
But his unwarranted attacks on other nations — both directly and through his gratuitous insults via so-called diplomatic channels — are turning Mexico into a international pariah, at a time when the country needs all the friends it can get.