By RICARDO CASTILLO
As the internal conflict inside Venezuela grows on a daily basis, the numbers of voices in Mexico pleading with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to declare himself in support of the cause of the now-enormous number of nations (and columnists in Mexico) favoring self-appointed “substitute President” Juan Guaidó over ruling President Nicolás Maduro.
On Monday, Feb. 25, even U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called “on Mexico and Uruguay” to join the cause of “the Venezuelan people” and the other members of the Lima Group, which want “dictator” Maduro out of power.
Things seem to come to a head on Monday when Univision anchor Jorge Ramos and five members of his team were held for a couple of hours and then deported out of Venezuela for asking questions Maduro did not like during an interview. Ramos is a Mexican citizen, but not per se a Mexican journalist since he works for a U.S. concern and reports for a U.S. audience. Of course, Maduro nowadays hates anything that “stinks” of the United States, and in Maduro’s eyes, Ramos certainly does.
Beyond Ramos, the number of columnists in Mexico pushing for AMLO to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela is growing by the hour. But here are a few quotes from Mexican journalists who want AMLO’s intervention into the (in my view) deadlocked affair between Maduro and Guaidó:
In at least 10 different columns and on countless times in his TV talk show, Leo Zuckerman has said that “not intervening against Maduro is a vote for Maduro.”
Another popular TV and radio talk host, Ciro Gómez Leyva, literally demanded that AMLO and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Marcelo Ebrard budge from an until-now unmovable position of being neutral.
In the influential daily El Universal, Salvador García Soto publicly wondered how much longer AMLO can take the pressure before declaring himself for Maduro or Guaidó?
For that matter, look no further and read the open letter Pulse News Mexico editor-in-chief Thérèse Margolis published to AMLO pleading for compassion as Maduro uses the Venezuelan Army to keep much-needed aid from entering Venezuelan territory.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, President López Obrador defended Mexico’s neutral diplomatic position on the Venezuelan crisis. He repeated – over and over again – that he is just abiding by what Section X of Article 89 of the Mexican Constitution says and will continue to do so. He even told querying reporters to read what the Constitution says.
It states: “In the conduction of such (foreign) policy, the head of the executive power shall observe the following normative principles: the self determination of all peoples; no intervention; peaceful solution to all controversies; proscription of threats or use of force in international relations; the juridical equality of nations; international cooperation for development; respect, protection and promotion of human rights and the struggle for peace and international security.”
In his daily morning press conference, AMLO declined once again to comment on the ,mounting Venezuelan conflict, quoting — as he often does — former President Benito Juárez’s (1857-1872) stance that all solutions must be derived in accordance with the law and not through violence.
Of course, that’s one piece of legal advice neither Maduro nor Guaidó are paying heed to in their mad power quest in what looks like will eventually become a civil war.
Personally, I side with AMLO. These are times when the last thing Mexico needs is to get involved in the problems of other nations. Without asking for it, Mexico has now found itself squeezed between the “invasion” (U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice of words, not mine) of Central Americans who are taking the hard route of walking from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to seek asylum in the United States.
Central Americans pose a problem for Mexico because we all know that the great majority will not be allowed into U.S. territory. These are desperate people in a desperate situation, whether at home in Central America or here, with no hope either way. To the great majority, however, Mexico has offered low-paying jobs through the maquiladora program at the U.S. border, but their objective is clearly to reach the United States.
In any case, I disagree with many of the columnists currently pressuring President AMLO to take a stance regarding Venezuela, preferably along the lines of the Lima Group backing Guaidó.
Unlike radicals like Zuckerman, who claims a no vote is a vote for Maduro, I’m of the opinion that AMLO already has his hands full just fighting the stele of corruption left behind by previous Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and has too long a list of public works – trains, energy stations, hospitals, fuel theft tolerance, you name it — to pay attention to a power struggle going on in Venezuela.
This is not an ideological position, but one based on Mexican legality, and if needed, mediation in the conflict. Mexico did not validate the decisions taken on Monday, Feb. 25, by the Lima Group, which, right along with the Trump-Pence team, is all for ousting Maduro.
Some of the abovementioned “prophets of doom” journalists have warned that Mexico will soon “be lagging behind” if it continues on its “isolationist trek.” Maybe yes, but most likely not.
It is clear that in the past, under Mexico’s nonintervention in the internal affairs of other nations Estrada Doctrine, the nation gained international respect and prestige for maintaining an honorable and highly respected diplomatic posture regardless of which way the gales of political encounters blow.
Mexico’s policy is: Yes to mediation, which is what SRE is offering along with Uruguay, and no to intervention. History will prove Mexico took the right path before and is doing so again.