AMLO announces plans to militarize the National Guard
Gobierno de Mexico
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks about an executive order planned to give control of the National Guard to the Ministry of Defense during a press conference on August 9, 2022.
This week, Mexico’s president announced plans to bring the country’s National Guard under the control of the Defense Ministry, raising concerns about the growing militarization of the country’s public security forces.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would issue a decree giving the military operational and administrative control of the National Guard – a security force created in 2019 with the express promise that it would be a force of civil police.
“This announcement, what it does, shows that there was never really a commitment to this being a civilian force,” said Cecilia Farfan, co-founder of Mexico Violence Resource Project. “The other concern is, is there a commitment at all to having civilian institutions related to law enforcement and public safety? And based on this announcement, it looks like it won’t be the case.”
There were concerns about militarization from the start, Farfan said, with a former military leader placed in charge and nearly 80% of troops transferred from the army. This would only formalize this link, which the president has previously denied.
Despite promises as a candidate and at the start of his presidency that he would not depend much on the military, López Obrador increasingly turned to the armed forces, not only for security projects, but for deliver coronavirus vaccines, help build airports and railways and the like. projects.
Farfan said the president was capitalizing in part on surveys that show the public has a high level of trust in the military. But she and others fear the growing role of the military in Mexico poses major risks to the public.
“It creates an atmosphere of fear,” said Krimilda Bernal of the Sonora Security Observatory, adding that the increased reliance on the military is deteriorating the bond between law enforcement and the people they serve.
In Sonora, a pilot project that put military leaders in charge of several local police forces failed to reduce violence in those communities, she said. And eroded already poor police morale.
Putting the military in such close proximity to the public also puts people at risk, she said, pointing to the November killing of a young woman in Guaymas who was attending a protest against gender-based violence when she was killed in an attack on a military commander. .
“We put soldiers where they don’t belong,” Bernal said. “And that doesn’t make our community any safer.”
The Mexican military has also been linked to serious human rights abuses, including disappearances and killings, violent treatment of migrants, as well as gender-based violence, she said.