Mexico Under López Obrador : Six Years of Solitude, or Flexing its Muscle at Sea?
June 20, 2019
Four days into 2019, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called 1999 and asked for Mexico’s foreign policy back: He announced that his government would not join the Lima Group countries in condemning the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, saying “I don’t get involved in other countries’ affairs,” thus fulfilling a campaign promise that “foreign policy will obey the right of nations and the principle of non-intervention.” And yet, two weeks earlier, the Mexican Congress, controlled by López Obrador’s party, approved a nine percent hike in the combined defense budget, continuing a modernization trend that may soon give Mexico the ability to project influence and power in the region and around the globe. These examples represent two visions for the future of Mexico: One of Mexico in retreat, and the other of Mexico slowly, but surely, expanding its reach. What remains to be seen is whether and how López Obrador will seek to reconcile these two visions.
A Return to Retreat: History of Mexico’s Estrada Doctrine
López Obrador has been clear about his intention to return to the Estrada Doctrine, Mexico’s foreign policy of “non-intervention” in the affairs of other countries. This doctrine began in 1931, when Mexico aimed to maintain neutrality in international disputes, with a philosophy of passing no judgment and joining no alliance. In practice, however, Mexico’s position toward foreign governments has always seemed to tilt left. Its leaders were early and ardent supporters of Fidel Castro, allowed Sandinista rebels to hide in Mexico, and criticized El Salvador’s human rights record. When Mexican governments were critical, that criticism was directed at authoritarian regimes on the right: Mexico broke relations with Gen. Francisco Franco’s Spain in 1936, with Chile in 1973 after Augustin Pinochet’s coup, and with Nicaragua in 1979 under the Somoza dictatorship.
Read the full article in War on the Rocks here.