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News > Mexico

Why Mexico's AMLO Recognizes Maduro, Rejects Interventionism

  • President Lopez Obrador in press conference at the National Palace Thursday. Jan. 24, 2019.

    President Lopez Obrador in press conference at the National Palace Thursday. Jan. 24, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 January 2019

President Lopez Obrador has made it clear that Mexico is sticking to the non-interventionism principle adopted in 1930.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ratified the position adopted by the foreign ministry regarding the situation in Venezuela and recognized Nicolas Maduro as the only president of the South American country, maintaining the traditional ‘non-intervention’ principle adopted by Mexico decades ago.


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“It’s part of Mexican diplomacy’s history, always exemplary in difficult moments,” said Lopez Obrador during a press conference Thursday. “In order to not make a mistake, it’s better to stick to what’s established in the Constitution and be able to manage in harmony the four basic principles in the Constitution: non-intervention, self-determination of the people, peaceful solution to controversies and respect for human rights.”

Lopez Obrador explained that Mexico’s government is not in favor or against, but only complying with constitutional principles, even though “some groups, people, governments, don’t like it,” adding that he won’t seek to confront any country but rather to build friendly relationships with all the peoples in the world.

Mexico’s center-left president has been confronted by sectors of the country’s right for its position toward the Venezuelan government led by Nicolas Maduro, but has always answered by citing the Constitution.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that Mexico will remain in its position and said that the Mexican diplomatic mission in Venezuela will be open for whatever Mexicans need in that country.

“We have diplomatic relations with Venezuela and it has a constitute government and we won’t proceed to breaking relations at the movement or not recognize that government,” said Ebrard, “we’re not looking for anything else that is not directed to dialogue and peace.”

When opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido was declared interim president in an irregular ceremony by the National Assembly, currently in contempt, right-wing governments and organizations decided to recognize him as such. Mexico’s government announced that it would “analyze the situation in Venezuela,” but that there was no change planned regarding diplomatic relations.

Shortly after, the presidency’s spokesman Jesus Ramirez Cuevas confirmed to EFE that Lopez Obrador maintained his recognition for Nicolas Maduro as the president of Venezuela.

Instead, the governments of Uruguay and Mexico called for a dialogue and a negotiated resolution to the political conflict in Venezuela, a call that was welcomed by President Maduro during a speech on Thursday.

Mexico also refrained from signing a joint declaration by the Lima Group, formed with the sole purpose of pressuring the Bolivarian government, which demanded Maduro to renounce to his second presidential term.

The Estrada Doctrine

Mexico’s non-intervention posture was defined in the early 1930 by Genaro Estrada, the foreign ministry during a period of Mexican history known as the ‘Maximato,’ going against the mainstream current in international politics at the time.


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The doctrine is expressly against countries deciding whether a foreign government is legitimate or not, especially when these are established by revolutionary movements. At that time Mexico was recovering from the political instability derived from the 1910 revolution and subsequent power struggles, with foreign ministers struggling to get international recognition. Hoping to end this problem and establish an exemplary diplomatic precedent, the government stopped recognizing or legitimizing governments, limiting to maintain or remove diplomatic relations without judgements.

The departure from the Estrada Doctrine was initiated around 2000 by former President Vicente Fox, of the National Action Party (PAN). Fox and his foreign ministers challenged the Estrada Doctrine and started criticizing governments they considered undemocratic, arguing that the ‘non-intervention’ policy had been used by the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) for 70 years to justify its own actions while maintaining good relations with the international community.

One of Fox’s foreign ministers, Jorge Castañeda, even started to openly criticize the Cuban and Venezuelan governments, influenced by U.S. foreign policy.

Possibly the most remarkable moment in Mexico's distancing from its traditional policy was when in Fox called Fidel Castro in 2002 to tell him his presence at an International Conference in Monterrey represented a “great deal of problems” and ask him to leave after dinner.

The trend continued during the government of the right-wing hardliner Felipe Calderon, from the same party, and changed little after Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012.

Lopez Obrador’s decisions and declarations show that Mexico is returning to the doctrine that earned it international prestige at the League of Nations during the first half of the 20th Century.

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