26 September 2023

MEXICO: ‘Enemies of State’ allegation withdrawn

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A long-running spat between the head of the Mexican Navy and the country’s most senior judges is over – almost three months after it began.

In May, while speaking at President López Obrador’s morning press conference, Admiral José Rafael Ojeda (pictured) startled journalists by referring to the Judicial Branch as an “enemy of the State”.

He elaborated by saying judges continually freed many suspected criminals that came before the courts, especially alleged drug traffickers.

Admiral Ojeda, who is also Minister for the Navy, made a qualified apology for his remarks at a criminal justice system workshop at which judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar, were in attendance.

“I want to make a public apology to those who deserve it because there are good judges and good Attorney General’s officials, and there is good social justice,” Admiral Ojeda said.

“However, we also have certain problems within this branch [of Government],” he said.

Admiral Ojeda said the navy was committed to working with other Mexican institutions, including the judiciary, to combat problems that the nation faced.

“We want to open the bridge of communication toward a multilateral dialogue that allows us to work in close collaboration [with other institutions],” he said.

“We want to understand them, but we also want them to understand us.”

“In addition to receiving this judicial system training, we want to be given the opportunity to allow you to understand our conduct in the military field, why it is necessary to maintain discipline, loyalty and duty; why we must be as we are,” Admiral Ojeda said.

Justice Zaldívar said it was good that the various institutions of the Mexican State were no longer at odds with each other but rather working together toward a common goal.

“We have the same aim, we’re on the same side. We have different roles and responsibilities but not conflicting ones,” Justice Zaldívar said.

“I have no doubt the constructive dialogue and mutual trust that we have strengthened, not just at an institutional level but also at a personal one, will allow us to move toward a fairer and freer country, in peace and harmony,” he said.

Mexico City, 20 August 2021

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