By RICARDO CASTILLO
Is there a conspiracy afoot to violently topple democratically elected Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)? If not, why would the president issue a statement to that effect on Saturday, Nov. 1?
“How wrong are conservatives and their hawks!” AMLO said. “They were able to commit the felony of overthrowing and murdering (former Mexican President Francisco I.) Madero (referring to the coup that toppled him in 1913 by usurper Victoriano Huerta, with the full support of then-U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Henry Lane Wilson), because this good man, an apostle of democracy, did not have or circumstances did not allow him to seek the support of a social base that would back him and protect him.*
AMLO continued: “Now, it is different. Even realities are different and nobody should fall into the simplicity of comparisons. The transformation I am heading has the support of a free, fair, conscious and peace- and law-loving majority that will not allow another coup d’état in our nation.
“There’s not in Mexico the slightest opportunity for the Huertas, Francos, Hitlers or Pinochets. Today’s Mexico is not a fertile ground for genocide, nor for scoundrels who beg for it.”
Why this kind of comment from the Mexican president? What’s going on? Here’s the gist of where this story got unreeled.
Current Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval González now and then organizes breakfasts, to which he invites about 500 former members of the Army and a keynote speaker, usually a retired general.
On Oct. 22, it was no different. But this time the guest speaker was former Defense Undersecretary General Carlos Gaytán Ochoa, who served under former President Felipe Calderón and who delivered a scathing speech criticizing AMLO’s administration. Here are some excerpts from the nearly 550 word speech by Gaytán:
“We’re currently living in politically polarized society because the dominant ideology — not of the majority — is based on currents that are allegedly leftwing, which have, over the years, accumulated a great deal of resentment.
“Today we have a government that represents approximately 30 million Mexicans whose objective is change, a change that will allow them to correct what they consider a deficit by the state for that given population sector. We can’t bypass that the head of the executive branch has been empowered legally and legitimately.
“However, it is also an undeniable truth that the fragile organisms of balance at hand have allowed a strengthening of the executive that has propitiated strategic decisions that are not convincing to all, to put it mildly.
“That makes us uneasy, and it eventually offends us, but mainly worries us, since each of us here present was formed with solid axiological (subjectivity and objectivity) values that clash with the way the nation is being run today.
“We’re not hereby bypassing the real situation. But I am convinced that it is my irrevocable duty to maintain the principles of honor, value and loyalty to the people of Mexico, yes, to the people of Mexico.
“I am referring to it because more than one would rather have magical solutions, or worse, drastic ones before a historical surrounding that’s calling for change with cries to pacify, to educate and to keep Mexico healthy.”
Later, Gaytán added:
“Who here can ignore what the (Army’s) high command is confronting from the institutional point of view? To a group of ‘hawks,’ who could lead Mexico to chaos and to a truly failed state? I have spoken carefully measuring my words.”
It must be pointed out that Gaytán has a 50-year long resumé of top command activities, including as head of the Mayor State (Jefe del Estado Mayor), as military commander in Nayarit and Chiapas (during the 1994 Indian uprising), as the Mexican representative to the Inter-American Committee for Drug Abuse and Control and the Special Inter-American Anti-terrorism Committee, and as the 2012 candidate to serve as Defense secretary for then-President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.
The immediate reaction from AMLO following the speech was mild. López Obrador said that Gaytán was not acting in ill faith nor carrying out, as some press reports described the speech, “an attempt of conspiracy.” But AMLO also recalled that it was Gaytán who, along with Calderon, instituted the war on drugs by the Mexican Army, which has led to a horrendous amount of murders and intramural wars among drug gangs.
“It is understandable that Gen. Gaytán Ochoa should express himself like any other person,” AMLO said. “Let us not forget too he was the Army undersecretary for President Felipe Calderón.”
But with his statement over this past weekend, AMLO changed his tune because of a warning against an attempt to topple his democratically elected government is very real. Gaytán’s words came from within the Army and surely the old generals now in retirement do not like what they see under AMLO’s watch. They could very well could be conspiring against Mexico’s recently attained democratic system.
Will the conspiracy reach the level that some of the president’s opponents would like it? AMLO’s appraisal of his support is correct because the people of Mexico are getting the government they voted in, even if what AMLO calls “the conservatives” are grinding their teeth in fury and distress.