President Trump may have declined to criticize Russia for interfering in the U.S. and other elections around the world — but now, amid reports that Russia may be meddling in Latin American elections, too, two bipartisan senators are asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to raise this very issue when he travels to Mexico and Latin America later this week. “We write to urge you to raise the importance of strong, independent electoral systems in Mexico and Latin America more broadly,” write Senators Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Senator Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, wrote in a letter to Tillerson. “We are increasingly concerned about growing efforts to undermine these hard-fought and widely supported advances, particularly those emanating from outside the region.”
The senators allege Russia is using “sophisticated technology” to influence Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, and they’re asking Tillerson to urge Mexico and other countries to rely on help from USAID to safeguard their elections. Violent protests of thousands recently erupted after the Honduras presidential election, a contested race that was marred by accusations of voter fraud. Tear gas had to be used to diffuse the angry streets when the winner was declared weeks after the vote took place. The senators point to those images in calling for the need to support strong electoral processes to sustain a democracy.
U.S. National Security Advisor HR McMaster noted Russian efforts to insert their influence in Mexico late last year. “We’ve seen that this is really a sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other,” said McMaster “You’ve seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already.”