- Historical event
- 4 August 1924
- On this day in 1924 Mexico became the first country on the American continent to establish formal relations with the USSR. Although there was a great geographic and cultural distance between those two countries, there were also some similarities which allowed them to establish relatively close relations. Mexico and the USSR also had some common interests in foreign policy.
The Russian Empire and Mexico had established diplomatic relations back in 1890, but the revolutions which broke out in the countries in the second decade of the 20th century resulted in an almost total breakdown in communications between them.
After the political situation had somewhat cooled down in both countries, on this day in 1924 Mexico became the first country on the American continent to establish formal relations with the USSR.
Although there was a great geographic and cultural distance between those two countries, there were also some similarities which allowed them to establish relatively close relations.
It was precisely in 1917, the same year when two revolutions broke out in Russia, that Mexico introduced a new and relatively radical constitution, which gave greater rights to women, abolished the hacienda system, introduced compulsory education, and nationalized many factories.
However, it also introduced a strong anti-clerical policy: priests were forbidden to hold classes in school, almost all church property was placed at the state’s disposal, abolished religious orders, and forbade priests from participating in politics in any way (they were even denied suffrage).
This led to the outbreak of the so-called “Cristero War”, which ended with a compromise in 1929.
It is interesting to note that the USSR sent the first female ambassador in history, Alexandra Kollontai, to Mexico in 1926.
However, in the early 1930s, relations between the two countries began to cool again. A great political conflict broke out in the USSR, in which Stalin managed to eliminate all his opponents.
The most famous of them was Leon Trotsky, who sought asylum in Mexico in 1936 and spent some time living with famous artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Despite these problems, Mexico and the USSR were the only two countries that officially supported the Republic and sent help against Francisco Franco and his allies.
Mexico sent the Republicans 2 million U.S. dollars, some 20,000 rifles, and a large amount of ammunition. Even though the Republicans lost the war, Mexico took in at least 50,000 refugees and provided them with shelter, mostly in Mexico City.
Soviet-Mexican relations were restored in late 1942, when Mexico entered World War II on the Allied side and declared war on Nazi Germany.
During the Cold War, Mexico found itself in an unenviable position between the two superpowers. However, Mexico and Russia continued to maintain friendly relations after the dissolution of the USSR.