“Mexico is much more multifaceted than it is sometimes depicted”

In an interview with His Excellency Eduard Rubénovich Malayán, we discuss a bilateral relation of 128 years, increasing trade, and cultural icon, Verónica Castro
 “Mexico is much more multifaceted than it is sometimes depicted”:  Ambassador of  the Russian Federation to Mexico
His Excellency Eduard Rubénovich Malayán, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Mexico at the Russian Federation embassy in Mexico City - Photo: Sofía Danis/EL UNIVERSAL in English
03/02/2018
13:32
EL UNIVERSAL in English/Berenice González
Mexico City
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“For Russia, bilateral relations with Mexico have a value of their own. We deeply cherish them, and we continuously look to make them more solid, larger and more beneficial for the interests of both countries. We have an open dialogue with Mexico’s government; we can discuss any topic that is brought to our table”, underlines His Excellency Eduard Rubénovich Malayán, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Mexico, in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL in English in Mexico City.
 

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His Excellency Eduard Rubénovich Malayán, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Mexico in Mexico City - Photo: Sofía Danis/ EL UNIVERSAL in English

 

Mexico-Russia: A bilateral relation of 128 years
A little-known fact is that the Russian Empire and Independent Mexico held a common border in the 19th century before Russia sold Alaska and north California territories to the United States of America in 1867. Since then, relations between Mexican and Russian peoples have developed under a friendly fashion, as noted by
Mr. Malayán: “We had a common border in California in the 19th century before we established formal diplomatic relations with Mexico on December 11th, 1890.” This amounts to a 128-year-old exchange between Mexico and Russia that includes not only diplomacy but increasing trade and culture.

Current Russian ambassador to Mexico, Eduard Rubénovich Malayán commenced his tenure in Mexico in January 2013. After five years in our country, he is still marvelled by the diversity of Mexico’s people and their land: “Mexico is much more multicultural, much more multifaceted as it is sometimes depicted. Mexico is worth to be visited and explored given the uniqueness of its position and its rich history. Every time I go out into the Mexican countryside I am surprised, as every time I see something new and different.”

Mr. Malayán defines the state of current Mexico-Russia relations as “old, strong and friendly” and underlines that Mexico and Russia had been very close for a number of reasons, namely the long history of Mexican and Russian peoples, a feeling of historical background and belonging, and a series of historical coincidences, such as Mexico and Russia social revolutions and the proclamation of democratic constitutions in both countries: “We have a lot of cultural affinities with the Mexican people. There is a shared height of emotions. Russians and Mexicans are very similar in their soul and disposition: sensible, sensitive and sentimental. This brings our two people closer.”


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What to look forward to in terms of Mexico-Russia trade relations
Only last January 10, the first office of the National Association of Mexican Importers and Exporters (ANIERM) was opened in Moscow in an effort to diversify the offer of Mexican products in Russian soil. Mexico-Russia trade cooperation is on the rise as a result of Mexico openness, in terms of national reforms and the pursuit of international trade agreements; all of which are welcomed by Russia: “there is an increasing commercial interest given Mexico’s openness to world markets after the scenario raised as of January 2016 which anticipated a renegotiation of NAFTA." notes
Mr. Malayán.

He adds: “What we buy from you is cars, spare parts, medical equipment, agricultural products all indicative that trade relations between our countries are on the rise with trade operations amounting to over USD$2bn last year."  An official Russian delegation attended the Business Summit held in San Luis Potosí on October last year, led by the Minister of Trade and Industry Mr. Denis Manturov, who met with top trade Mexico officials and president Enrique Peña Nieto.

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With potential trade agreements in works, a positive outcome is expected by the second quarter of 2018 resulting from the efforts of the bilateral Intergovernmental Commission of Trade and Economic Issues with a venue either in Mexico or Moscow to be defined. “Mexico is increasing its economic output. Mexico like Russia is a member of the G20, with whom we share several common positions in terms of fair international trade and the necessity of a reform to the current monetary system, among others. Shared views on economic and environmental global issues strengthen the basis of our cooperation." notes Mr. Malayán.

As for the upcoming Russia 2018 World Cup Mr. Malayán is emphatic “[Mexicans] visiting Russia should relax and enjoy, as they will be able to combine and satisfy their sports interest and the support for their national team with the chance to meet ordinary Russians and to enjoy Russian hospitality, its food and culture.” 

Mexico will not leave the World Cup empty-handed as there will be Mexican pavilions installed in Moscow and other host cities, where Russians will have a taste of Mexican food, mariachi music, Mexican art and products made in Mexico: “We are talking about a cultural festival of Mexico in Moscow in June and July 2018.” says an enthusiastic Eduard Malayán.

 

PASSWORD: "VERÓNICA CASTRO"
Cultural exchanges between Mexico and Russia include the trips of Mexico muralists Rivera and Siqueiros to Russia in the 1920s, not to mention Diego Rivera's Russian wife, Angelina Beloff (m.1911). The cultural affinities between the two countries include Mexican soap operas produced in the early 80s, which aired in Russia during the late 80s and early 90s in the time of the transition from the U.S.S.R. to the Rusian Federation: "Verónica Castro is a sort of national hero in Russia." says
Mr. Malayán.

To illustrate his point he shares with us an anecdote taking place only last year, on the occasion of the performance of renowned Russian violinist, Maxim Vengerov at Mexico’s Fine Arts Palace. Among the audience was Mexican actress and singer Verónica Castro, who starred in Mexico's soap opera Los ricos también lloran ("The rich also cry") during the golden age of the genre in our country.

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Verónica Castro starring in Mexican soap opera "Los ricos también lloran" in 1979 - Photo: Screenshot taken from VeroVisión TV

 

During the intermission, Mr. Malayán told Vengerov of Ms. Castro's attendance to the recital. Maxim Vengerov then asked Eduard Malayán to invite her backstage for the possibility of having a selfie with her. Mr. Malayán told Ms. Castro that the great Maxim Vengerov "dreamed to see her for a selfie" and asked if she wanted to meet him, to which Verónica Castro agreed gladly. Once the selfie had been taken Maxim Vengerov immediately called his mother and told her he was standing next to the Verónica Castro. Certainly the highest point of his visit to Mexico in the words of Mr. Malayán. "It is almost like a password, just say the name Verónica Castro in Russia and everyone will understand what you are talking about.", says Malayán.
 

Only three years ago, Mexico's Fine Arts Palace exhibited "Vanguardia Rusa: El vértigo del Futuro" (Russian Avant-Garde: The vertigo of future), which showcased over 500 works by male and female Russian artists ranging from Kandinsky to Eisenstein, including works by Natalia Goncharova, Olga Rozánova and Varvara Stepánova.
 
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Posters of the show exhibited on October 2015 in Mexico's Fine Arts Palace- Photo: Alejandro Acosta / EL UNIVERSAL

Academic and cultural exchange on the rise
On the academic mobility programs established with Mexico, Malayán underlines the successful case of the University of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico: "Eight different agreements with the University of Sinaloa have been established with several Russian universities in items of cooperation ranging from space to maritime studies. These cultural and academic exchanges take place more often than we know as they exist on a private one to one basis between schools, which reduce governmental bureaucracy." notes Malayán.

For its part, there are a number of official events held at the embassy in order to promote cultural efforts. The latest being an invitation-only joint Russian Mexican evening of classical music to take place next February 12, where Russian pianists and singers will perform together with singers supported by the Pepita Serrano International Society of Mexican Arts Values (SIVAM).  
 

By the end of April this year, the event "Days of Moscow in Mexico", which has been on a city to city level between the mayors of Mexico and Moscow without any political implication, will bring two great Russian orchestras to play in Mexico: one playing folk traditional Russian music and dancing performing at Zocalo square and a performance by a renowned chamber orchestra named after Alfred Garrievich Schnittke (1934-1998), “one of the biggest Soviet-Russian composers of the 20th century, maybe the most world-known after Shostakovich,  Prokofiev,  Khachaturian”, as noted Mr. Malayán, with the Metropolitan Theater in Mexico City being the first option for a venue.

Know more about Mexico-Russian relations here.
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