Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the President of Mexico, showed his admiration for the great Zapotec statesman Benito Juarez on July 18 by honoring the Mexican hero on the 147th anniversary of his death. According to a Mexican news story, it was the first time in 113 years since that had been done.
AMLO, as he is called in Mexico from the first letters of his name, was at the head of an honor guard that placed a floral offering at a monument to Juarez, located in the Marian Patios in the National Palace. AMLO’s wife, Beatriz Gutierrez Muller, who is the president of the Honorary Council of Historical and Cultural Memory of Mexico, read a prepared speech. It had been drafted originally by Jesus Urueta, a Mexican journalist who wrote it for the 29th anniversary of the death of Juarez.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included Olga Sanchez Cordero, the Secretary of the Interior, Javier Jimenez Espriu, the Secretary of Communications and Transportation, Dagoberto Espinoza, the Undersecretary of National Defense, and Eduardo Arredondo, the Undersecretary of the Navy.
The President said that he admired and respected Juarez because he “was an example to follow for his honesty, perseverance and patriotism.” AMLO then took a tour of the spots where the Mexican hero lived and died that are now part of the Historical Museum in the National Palace. Among his many achievements, Juarez led the successful Mexican resistance to the French invasion and the rule of the Emperor Maximilian from 1862 – 1867.
A news story from March 2006, during AMLO’s first run for president of Mexico—which he narrowly lost later that year—made it clear that the politician even then had a strong affinity for Juarez. He stated emphatically that while his beliefs would certainly be progressive, he did not plan to affiliate with prominent Latin American leftist leaders like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, or Lula de Silva.
Instead, he emphasized that he intended to emulate the approaches of the revered 19th century Mexican Zapotec leader Juarez. The famous maxim articulated by Juarez, “respect for the rights of others is peace,” appears from these news stories to still be held as an ideal in Mexico—at least in the administration of the current president.