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Lopez Obrador defends refusal to condemn Venezuela’s Maduro

A return to non-intervention and a step away from alliance with U.S.

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President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador addresses the morning press conference at the National Palace on Jan. 10, 2019 in Mexico City. Photo: Getty

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended his administration’s hands-off policy on Venezuela Monday, saying it marked a return to the country’s longstanding policy of non-intervention.

Lopez Obrador’s new administration has reversed years of Mexican pressure on Venezuela, refusing to sign a Lima Group declaration Friday urging Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro not to assume power for a second term.

Backlash was immediate. On Friday a Colombian woman approached Lopez Obrador at an airport to confront him on the issue.

“I don’t get involved in other countries’ affairs,” Lopez Obrador answered her.

On Monday, he acknowledged that “this is an issue that generates a lot of polemics, but it should be understood that this is not an issue of political sympathies.”

Lopez Obrador was accused of sympathizing with Maduro, a self-declared socialist.

But Lopez Obrador said it is a return to the non-intervention policy Mexico practiced from the 1960s — when it resisted U.S. pressure to condemn or isolate Cuba — until 2000, when the conservative PAN began a more U.S.-allied stance in foreign affairs.

Lopez Obrador said Monday that Mexico “cannot be getting involved in the internal affairs of other countries, because we don’t want anybody, any foreign government, getting involved in Mexico’s internal affairs.”

Lopez Obrador may be positioning Mexico to serve as a trusted mediator in any possible negotiated solution to Venezuela’s crisis.

Raul Benitez, a security expert and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said foreign policy has been an area Lopez Obrador has shown talent in, and the Mexican leader braved criticism by inviting Maduro to his Dec. 1 inauguration.

“Maduro is isolated, and Mexico could be a negotiator … because Maduro will have confidence in him,” Benitez said.

Venezuela’s hyperinflation, crime and shortages have forced millions to flee, mainly to countries in South America but some to Mexico, as well.

Source: ABC News

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