With his typical grandiosity, the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, congratulated Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in his victory in the recent Mexican presidential elections: “Let the broad swathes of sovereignty and friendship of our peoples be opened,” Maduro said on Twitter. With Lopez Obrador now in power, there is proof that: “Truth triumphs over lies and the hope of the great homeland is renewed.”
That warmth between Mexico and Venezuela could be a double-edged sword for the opponents of Maduro’s government. A recent analysis by the Associated Press indicates that the triumph of another leftist politician in Mexico could spell relief for the other leftist government in Latin America. That’s a new world order.
The past two successive Mexican administrations have not exactly been friends with the leaders from Caracas. When Hugo Chavez ruled in Venezuela, Mexican President Vicente Fox openly criticised him for a poor human rights record and for praising the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.
Back then, the disagreement between Mexico and Venezuela reached the point that the two countries withdrew their respective ambassadors between 2005 and 2009.
Back then, the attitude of Fox’s government violated the traditional Mexican policy of “nonintervention” in the internal affairs of other countries. To Mexicans that’s called the Estrada Doctrine, which dates back to the 1930s and is named after its creator, Genaro Estrada, then the secretary of foreign affairs. “Nonintervention” has often been the excuse used by totalitarian states such as Cuba and Venezuela to justify their support for other dictatorships. It was under the Estrada doctrine that the Mexican government refused to expel Cuba from the Organisation of American States in 1962 because of Havana’s strong links with the Soviet bloc.
Mexico’s outgoing president, Enrique Pena Nieto, also had a forceful stance against Maduro, often joining the US in its rebuke of the Venezuelan government. And the Mexican government also collaborated with the Trump administration to confiscate assets of corrupt Venezuelan officials.
And just last month, Pena Nieto’s government sponsored a resolution at the OAS that would allow the organisation to suspend Venezuela on the charge that Maduro’s re-election on May 20 was fraudulent and illegitimate.
Lopez Obrador has said he will reapply the Estrada Doctrine of noninterference. “We will be friends of all the peoples and governments of the world,” he said after his victory July 1.
If Lopez Obrador moves Mexico away from hemispheric efforts to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, Maduro could breathe a sigh of relief as he takes off the pressure from a powerful Latin country.
However, Lopez Obrador, much more pragmatic than Maduro, could take advantage of a new, more friendly relationship with Caracas to try to soften the intransigence of the Venezuelan despot and alleviate Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis.
Lopez Obrador is a man of the left, but not an extremist. He knows how to forge alliances and has expressed that the changes he proposes “will be done in accordance with the established legal order. The new Mexican president could demonstrate to Maduro that the art of governing requires compromises. As a friend of Venezuela, he could exert an influence on Maduro and help create an environment conducive to negotiation and the search for a much-needed solution to the crisis in that country. Let’s hope so.
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