AMLO Refuses to Budge on Supreme Court’s National Guard Ruling
By MARK LORENZANA
After Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN) on Tuesday, April 18, blocked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) initiative to transfer the Mexican National Guard (GN) to the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) and López Obrador on Wednesday, April 19, subsequently blasted the decision, the president on Friday, April 21, revealed that SCJN Chief Justice Norma Piña tried to negotiate with the federal government on the GN issue, but that he refused and even ordered his cabinet “not to answer the phone.”
Regarding the decision of the SCJN to postpone until Jan. 1, 2024, the return of the GN to the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), AMLO admitted that the judiciary made an attempt to negotiate with the Office of the Presidency of the Republic to make sure that the transfer of the GN to the SSPC would be done in an orderly manner.
The GN, which was created by López Obrador to replace the federal police force, was until late last year under the SSPC.
The SCJN decision established that the 2019 constitutional reform to create the GN was categorical in establishing that it was to be of a civil nature and must be attached to the SSPC.
AMLO, in his daily morning press conference on Friday, said that SSPC head Rosa Icela Rodríguez on Thursday, April 20, had breakfast with Piña and the two discussed the return of the GN to the SSPC.
“I told the head of the SSPC (Rodríguez) that no, there should be no negotiation (with the SCJN),” López Obrador said. “This has to do with dignity, nothing about agreements in the dark. Don’t even answer the phone, I told my cabinet.”
López Obrador, in addition, again criticized the SCJN and its justices.
“The Supreme Court acted badly, eight justices decided politically and not legally,” said AMLO. “They did not care about the damage they could cause by preventing the National Guard from depending on the Sedena. Because what they resolved is that the GN will continue as the federal police of (former Secretary of Public Security) Genaro García Luna.”
For journalist and lecturer Enrique Quintana of business-focused daily newspaper El Financiero, López Obrador’s attitude of refusing to negotiate with the SCJN to ensure a smooth transition of the GN back to the SSPC “is worrisome because it sends a message that the president seeks nothing but to reverse what the Mexican Constitution mandates.”
“The Supreme Court has become the last bastion of defense of the Mexican Constitution. And by fulfilling that role, it has also become the favorite villain of the president, since he dislikes being limited by the Constitution,” wrote Quintana in his Saturday, April 22, column.
“That explains López Obrador’s anger at the decision of the qualified majority of the justices regarding the issue of the National Guard, which bordered on the insulting and grotesque. Simply, the Supreme Court just exercised the function entrusted to it, and determined that transferring the GN to the Sedena was in violation of the Constitution.”
Quintana added that “a survey carried out by El Financiero and published on March 21 revealed that 61 percent of those interviewed had confidence in the Supreme Court, a figure higher than the level of approval of President López Obrador.”
“The challenge for the majority bloc of Supreme Court justices will be to resist pressure and continue to make the right decisions, and try to negotiate when they can,” said Quintana, “even if the federal government does not even pick up the phone.”