The Estrada Doctrine

México 1930-2000 Foreign Policy Doctrine

Since the 1930’s México’s foreign policy has been inward-looking. This inward-looking philosophy has been defined as the Estrada Doctrine. The Estrada Doctrine is based on the notion that each country has the right to self-determination based on the needs and wants of its people rather than the needs or wants of other countries. Under the Estrada Doctrine no country has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.

The Estrada Doctrine was the core foreign affairs policy of México from when it was first articulated by Genaro Estrada, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Pascual Ortiz Rubio presidency. On September 27, 1930, Estrada articulated México’s belief that all countries have the right to deal with their own internal affairs as they see fit. Estrada stated, “The government of México restricts itself to keep or retire, when considered appropriate, its diplomatic agents and to continue accepting, when considered appropriate as well, similar diplomatic agents whose respective nations have accredited in México, without qualifying, neither hastily nor a posteriori, the right that nations have to accept, keep or replace their governments or authorities.”

The basic concept opposes the notion that a country bestows authority on another government via official recognition. When a government is removed unconstitutionally, other countries decide whether to recognize the new government, or not. Under international law, the recognition carries no legal recognition, but depending on the legal framework of individual countries, recognition carried with it each country’s legal consequences. In practice, as each country has its own legal framework in international relations, recognition is a political scheme, rather than a legal one.

The Estrada Doctrine came about because of what many considered the United States’ heavy-handed approach to recognizing the government of other countries. Estrada wrote about his proposed doctrine; “It is a well-known fact that some years ago México suffered as a few nations have, from the consequences of that doctrine [the recognition of governments by other countries], which allows foreign governments to pass upon the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the regime existing in another country, with the result that situations arise in which the legal qualifications or national status of governments or authorities are apparently made subject to the opinion of foreigners.”

Under the Estrada Doctrine, México would not issue declarations of recognitions for other governments, rather it would keep or withdraw its diplomatic staff, based upon México’s needs without declaring a government as valid or invalid.

The United States, on the other hand, emphasizes whether it recognizes a government as legitimate or illegitimate as part of its foreign policy regime. However, although the United States vocalizes the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a de facto government, even though the regime change can be irregular, it nonetheless has been following the Estrada Doctrine in many instances by not removing its diplomatic teams since 1968 in most instances.

México began to move away from the Estrada Doctrine in 2000, after the PAN won the presidency under Vicente Fox. The Fox Administration began to actively assert México’s point of view upon the various internal affairs of other countries, like Cuba, which México historically shied away from criticizing the Castro regime before 2000.