Trump, The General And The Mexican President: The Politics Of AMLO’s Resistance To Recognizing Biden

The U.S. Department of Justice asked for the release of former Mexican Defense Minister, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, after he was charged here with drug trafficking and money laundering.

By Joy Díaz & Laura RiceNovember 24, 2020 11:51 am,

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has yet to acknowledge that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will soon take office.

Mexico City-based security analyst, Alejandro Hope, told Texas Standard that AMLO has often tried to avoid conflict with President Donald Trump, and that could be playing into how he’s handling Biden’s win.

“There might even be some empathy between the two characters to the extent that they are both outsiders, they both see themselves as people fighting the political establishment,” Hope said.

But Hope thinks something else has also been a driving force in AMLO’s latest move.

“Now that we know that at the same time they were negotiating the release of Gen. Cienfuegos and his return to Mexico, that starts to make more sense,” Hope said.

Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos is an important figure in the Mexican armed forces. He was charged in the United States for helping someone in the Mexican drug trafficking world while he was minister of defense. But the U.S. Justice Department asked the judge in his case to let Cienfuegos go back to Mexico.

“This is highly unusual,” Hope said. “Actually, the DOJ cited as the reason to drop charges on Gen. Cienfuegos, ‘sensitive and important foreign policy considerations,’ which, of course, begs the question of what were those important and sensitive foreign policy considerations?”

Hope said part of the answer to that is that the charges against Cienfuegos “was felt in the Mexican Army as an affront to the institution.” But there’s more we just don’t know.

“My guess is that even if there is no direct quid pro quo between the Biden recognition and the Cienfuegos case, many Democrats are going to read it that way,” Hope said.

So what does that mean for the relationship between President-elect Biden and AMLO? Hope said all President Trump cared about was the extent to which Mexico could stop migrant caravans. Biden and AMLO, on the other hand, will likely negotiate a variety of issues.

“When the Democrats come back to power, many more agendas will be involved in that [relationship],” Hope said. “Things like human rights or the erosion of democratic norms in practice in Mexico. AMLO’s constant attacks on the media are going to sound to Democrats as eerily Trump-ist.”

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