Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – As Secretary Rex Tillerson prepares to travel to Mexico this week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) called on the Trump Administration to step up its efforts and do more to protect strong, independent electoral systems in Mexico and Latin America. The Western Hemisphere is scheduled to have six contentious presidential elections in 2018 alone.
 
Citing news reports that Russia is purportedly already using sophisticated technology to meddle in Mexico’s upcoming election, the Senators’ letters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green express increasing concern about the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine the region’s “hard-fought and widely supported advances in improving democratic governance structures and electoral processes.”
 
“Given Russia’s history in the region, this unfortunately comes as no surprise; these recent actions are simply the latest chapter of Russia’s malign influence throughout Latin America that threatens to destabilize the region,” wrote the Senators.  “Weak electoral systems can be easily exploited and manipulated by malicious actors like Russia.  As such, we believe it is critical that USAID continue to play an active role in providing technical assistance, education and training to support countries’ efforts to strengthen electoral systems.” 

A copy of the letter to Secretary Tillerson can be found below and here, and a copy of the letter to Administrator Green can be found here

Rubio, Menendez, Kaine Urgen se Proteja Elecciones  Mexicanas de Intervención Rusa 

Washington, D.C. – En vísperas al viaje del Secretario de Estado Rex Tillerson a México esta semana, el Senador Bob Menendez (D-NJ) fue acompañado por los Senadores Marco Rubio (R-FL) y Tim Kaine (D-VA) en urgirle a la Administración Trump que aumente su apoyo y esfuerzos para proteger los sistemas electorales en México y Latinoamérica.  El hemisferio occidental tendrá seis elecciones presidenciales contenciosas este año.

Citando noticias de que Rusia aparentemente ya está usando tecnología sofisticada para entrometerse en las próximas elecciones en México, las cartas de los senadores al Ssecretario de Estado Rex Tillerson y al administrador de USAID Mark Green expresan preocupación por los esfuerzos del Kremlin de desgastar los “avances logrados y ampliamente apoyados para mejorar las estructuras democráticas y los procesos electorales” en la región.

"Basado en el lamentable historial de Rusia en la región, estas acciones recientes son simplemente el último capítulo de la influencia maligna de Rusia en toda América Latina la cual amenaza con desestabilizar la región y no nos sorprende", escribieron los senadores.  "Los sistemas electorales débiles pueden ser fácilmente explotados y manipulados por actores maliciosos como Rusia.  Como tal, creemos que es fundamental que la agencia USAID continúe desempeñando un papel activo en la provisión de asistencia técnica, educación y capacitación para apoyar los esfuerzos de estos países para fortalecer sus sistemas electorales".

Una copia de la carta al Secretario Tillerson puede ser encontrado a continuación y aquí, y una copia de la carta al Administrado Green puede ser encontrada aquí

January 31, 2018
 
The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

As you prepare to depart for Mexico, we write to urge you to raise the importance of strong, independent electoral systems in Mexico and Latin America more broadly.

As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues, we believe our foreign policy should champion democracy, human rights, and strong governance institutions. Over the past decades, many countries in the region have made enormous strides in improving democratic governance structures including independent judiciaries and strong electoral processes. We are increasingly concerned about growing efforts to undermine these hard-fought and widely supported advances, particularly those emanating from outside the region. 

We are deeply troubled by recent news articles that Russia is reportedly using sophisticated technology to meddle in Mexico’s upcoming election. According to a speech by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, there is a “sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other,” noting Russia’s interference in Mexico’s presidential campaign specifically. Given Russia’s history in the region, this unfortunately comes as no surprise; these recent actions are simply the latest chapter of Russia’s malign influence throughout Latin America that threatens to destabilize the region.  These reports are particularly disconcerting because of this year’s busy electoral calendar in the Western Hemisphere with six contentious presidential elections, including Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. 

As the chaos and violence following the latest Honduran elections affirms, strong electoral processes and institutions are critical to the integrity of democracy.  Weak electoral systems can be easily exploited and manipulated by malicious actors like Russia.  As such, we believe it is critical that USAID continue to play an active role in providing technical assistance, education and training to support countries’ efforts to strengthen electoral systems.

USAID’s democracy and governance programs are vital for capacity building and in light of the mounting evidence of Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy in the region we request an update on these programs, as well as other efforts to build resiliency against efforts to destabilize democratic governance structures. Furthermore, we must bolster credible international election observation missions including through the Organization of American States.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  We look forward to your response and continued engagement on the topic since this will inevitably be an ongoing concern throughout the year.

Sincerely,