On a certain occasion, General Salvador Rangel Medina, considered one of the most respected officers in recent times within the Army, rejected the versions that made him Secretary of National Defense of the government that was about to start under José López Portillo (1976-1982). . Rangel said that the position was a political position, and the military person who assumed that responsibility should put aside the uniform and dedicate himself to doing politics. And he was clear that he was a soldier, not a politician.
He criticized the attitude of Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz, head of Defense with Luis Echeverría, who did not mind bombing entire towns in Guerrero and throwing peasants into the sea, as part of the policy of extermination of armed groups that characterized that administration.
–You are a soldier with a military rank, what do you have to do political speeches and political harangues? Rangel said about the soldiers who used their position to get along with the president.
Rangel criticized the attitude of the generals who confused submission with discipline. He said that some armed forces that guarantee democracy have the obligation to tell the president of the republic ‘this order that you are giving is not feasible, because it is outside the Constitution’. He recalled the firmness with which General Marcelino García Barragán refused President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz the night of October 3, one day after the Tlatelolco student massacre, to declare the suspension of individual guarantees. Closer in time, he praised the restraint of General Antonio Riviello Bazan, Secretary of Defense with Carlos Salinas de Gortari, when he asked the president for a ceasefire in Chiapas after the first days of the 1994 Zapatista uprising.
A good soldier with the responsibility conferred on him by the supreme commander is, above all, a good adviser, summed up General Rangel. His words regained validity after the speech on September 13 by Luis Crescencio Sandoval González, head of Sedena, who criticized “those who, with tendentious comments, generated by their personal interests and ambitions (…) seek to separate the armed forces from the trust and respect” that citizens have for them. It is not the first time that the general breaks with the political neutrality of a State institution to cover the presidential speech that stigmatizes and polarizes society. At another time he did it but in the current context, with the discussion and approval of the constitutional reform that seeks to extend the military presence in public security until 2028, he acquires another nuance.
Since the fall of 2018, prior to the inauguration of López Obrador, there was a consensus among high-ranking military officers on the appointment of Sandoval in Sedena. He was a “very foal” general, that is, inexperienced, he barely had a year in the divisional rank. Because the experience for a three-star general implied knowing the political class well and thoroughly, being steeped in national problems in situ, having commanded troops and, above all, commanding military regions in different barracks in the country. In the middle of the six-year term, that inexperience has surfaced.