Mexico’s Lower House backs military control of National Guard
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Saturday morning passed a bill giving the military control of the civilian-led National Guard in a controversial move that critics say will unconstitutionally tighten the military’s grip on law and order.
The legislative push marks something of a reversal for leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who promised during the election campaign to reduce the military’s control over public safety but presided over record violence for nearly four years in power.
The National Guard Police began operating in early 2019 at the request of Lopez Obrador, who argued the new law enforcement agency would end rampant corruption under its predecessor, the Federal Police.
Lawmakers and opposition activists have criticized the nascent force for alleged abuses even as Lopez Obrador extends the military’s mandate to other areas of civilian life.
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“This initiative jeopardizes the validity and respect of human rights and goes against international standards of public safety,” Amnesty International said ahead of the vote.
Lopez Obrador wanted to enshrine the changes in the constitution, which includes language that public security must be led by civilians. But in the face of strong opposition, he opted to send lawmakers this week a fast-track bill requiring only a simple majority vote against a super two-thirds majority.
If enacted, the legislation would give the military operational, financial and administrative control of the guard, which is currently under the civilian-run Ministry of Security.
The bill is now before the Senate for consideration and, if passed, will likely be challenged as a violation of the constitution.
In fact, former Supreme Court Justice Diego Valades predicts that he would easily be struck down by the highest court.
“Clearly it will not prevail,” he said, adding that if enacted it would be challenged and unanimously rejected as unconstitutional.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Diane Craft)
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