Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Defense chief criticized for remarks supporting ‘fourth transformation’

National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval has come under fire after publicly expressing support for the “transformation” President López Obrador and his government are carrying out in Mexico.

Speaking at a ceremony on Saturday to mark the 111th anniversary of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, Sandoval said the “fourth transformation” currently underway has the nation’s best interests at heart.

In that respect it’s like the previous three transformations, he said, referring to independence from Spain, 19th century liberal reforms and the revolution.

Despite differences of opinion about the federal government – colloquially known as the 4T for “fourth transformation” – Mexicans need to unite and support the “national project” it is carrying out, Sandoval said.

López Obrador has given the military a prominent role in the transformation he claims to be executing, assigning it a range of non-traditional tasks such as public security, infrastructure construction and management of the nation’s ports and customs offices.

The defense minister said the military “will continue putting all its efforts into compliance with the visions and tasks entrusted to us because we’re sure that this is the path for our country to continue developing.”

“… The army, air force, navy and National Guard are present in the entire country providing security to citizens, we’re present where the public’s assets and safety are at risk due to a disaster, we’re present where we can contribute to actions being carried out to avoid corruption … [and] we’re present where we’re needed to support progress and well-being,” the army chief said.

“… Being able to contribute to the transformation … is a badge of honor,” Sandoval said before echoing the president’s claim that the groundwork for such a monumental change has already been laid.

He said that actions being carried out by López Obrador and his administration are forging a “freer” and “more democratic” Mexico and addressing the “legitimate needs of the majority of Mexicans.”

“… On the verge of beginning the second half of the administration and in the context of the 111th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, the soldiers, marines and National Guard members affirm our loyalty [to the president] and commitment to continue working with honesty, integrity, discipline and professionalism in the projects entrusted to us,” Sandoval said.

At the same ceremony, López Obrador declared that members of the armed forces are loyal to the constitution and government institutions. There was speculation two years ago that there was a rift between the top ranks of the armed forces and López Obrador, leading military leaders to pledge loyalty to the president at the 2019 Mexican Revolution ceremony.

The president Saturday's event in Mexico City
The president Saturday’s event in Mexico City: ‘The Mexican soldier will never betray the homeland.’ sedena/twitter

“They [members of the armed forces] haven’t belonged nor will they belong, I’m sure, to the oligarchy. They come from below, their origin and identity is deep Mexico,” AMLO said Saturday.

“A soldier is a common man in uniform, that’s why he doesn’t betray the people and he will never betray freedom, justice and democracy. The Mexican soldier will never betray the homeland,” he said.

Sandoval’s remarks attracted criticism from academics and lawmakers. Catalina Pérez Correa, a law professor and researcher at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics, described his support for the 4T and his call for all Mexicans to back its political project as “very concerning.”

“I have no memory of any general openly supporting a political project in this way,” she wrote on Twitter, asserting that the army chief’s remarks were even worse given the power the military has been assigned.

Jacobo Dayán, a criminal law expert, said it was “regrettable” and “very worrying” that the armed forces had expressed explicit support for one side of politics and that Sandoval had called on Mexicans to join the 4T.

National Action Party Senator Lily Téllez and independent Senator Emilio Álvarez were also critical.

“Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval took sides with the 4T. How unfortunate,” Téllez wrote on Twitter.

Álvarez said on the same platform that the armed forces had shown they are “no longer a neutral institution of the state” but rather a “bastion of the 4T.”

“Sandoval’s call to join the 4T is concerning,” he added.

With reports from El Universal and Latinus

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