Copying Venezuela? Mexico’s Top General Backs Its President’s Socialist ‘Transformation’ Project

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro / Photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr via Wikimedia Commons

In a speech over the weekend, Mexico’s top general and Defense Secretary Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval raised concerns when he openly praised the leftist political agenda of socialist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO).

The general’s unprecedented comments drew strong criticism for injecting the military into the nation’s political debate.

This speech also reminded observers and critics of AMLO’s increasing use of the military for civilian projects and parallels with Socialist Venezuela.

According to AP, the General said:

…as Mexicans, we must be united in the national project that is being carried out. For us it is a mark of pride to be able to contribute to the transformation that is being carried out. The efforts of your administration are founded on the legitimate needs of the majority of Mexicans.

The far left López Obrador describes his administration as the “fourth transformation” of Mexico, akin to the three earlier major political movements that defined Mexico: the independence against Spain, the 1910-17 Mexican Revolution and the Liberal reform movement of the 1850s and 60s.

As the Wall Street Journal notes:

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador —a k a AMLO—has been known to bristle when critics liken him to the late Hugo Chávez. But the parallels between the spirit of Mr. López Obrador’s two-year-old government and that of the Venezuelan strongman’s in its early years are impossible to ignore.

AMLO is on a mission to complete what he calls “the fourth transformation” of Mexico, and he has to centralize power to do it. He has already wrested control of the Supreme Court, and last month he proclaimed that autonomous regulatory bodies like the federal antitrust commission and the office that provides transparency in federal contracts should be eliminated.

Like the authoritarian Chavez and Nicolás Maduro have done in Venezuela, López Obrador has dramatically expanded the Mexican army’s role in everything from law enforcement to building and operating airports and rail projects. This makes the military a target for corruption and political favors.

And many observers believe that, similar to Venezuela, this is a very dangerous development for the future of democracy in Mexico. AP noted that:

The conservative opposition National Action Party said in a statement that “this political content is not appropriate from a military man, and clearly violates” a clause in the Constitution that prohibits political activity by the armed forces.

José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, wrote in his Twitter account that Cresencio Sandoval “publicly backed and identified himself” with López Obrador and “his political project.”

“When military officers get involved in politics, democracy is in danger,” Vivanco wrote.

And with a populist socialist president with delusions of grandeur we should all be concerned about a Venezuela scenario. As the Wall Street Journal writes, while “AMLO can’t copy Chávez play by play… his aspirations are hauntingly similar and so is his modus operandi.” ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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