Tuesday, July 10, 2018

AMLO and Venezuela

The landslide victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico's presidential election is likely to provide some relief to another leftist firebrand: Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro.
Lopez Obrador campaigned on a promise to return to Mexico's traditional foreign policy of nonintervention, putting him at odds with his predecessor's efforts to build a regional alliance to bring pressure against Maduro's socialist government for taking Venezuela down an increasingly authoritarian path.

Since AMLO has emphasized non-intervention, and incoming Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has said that Mexico would not "intervene" in Nicaragua or Venezuela, this makes some sense. But I feel like we need to be careful not to take it too far.

First, I put "intervene" in quotes to point out that it is not synonymous with "doing nothing." AMLO has no interest in coercion but that doesn't mean he isn't open to prodding Maduro in his own way. I have no idea whether that will happen but I can at least easily imagine something like it. AMLO has been very careful not to embrace Maduro and indeed to keep a distance. They are not ideological soulmates. Mexico actually has a long history of trying to resolve conflicts even under the banner of non-intervention.

Second, let's not overstate the progress being made in terms of regional response to Venezuela. The Mexican government joined in sponsoring the June 2018 OAS resolution on Venezuela, which among other things declared the electoral process illegitimate and called for member states and the OAS itself to start considering appropriate measures. So maybe the baby steps get a little bit babier. But Latin American governments don't want to do much and likely never will. There is just too much bad history, led by the United States.


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