Violence and insecurity in Mexico force the Army to act again



Violence and insecurity in Mexico has become such a threat that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been forced to once again mobilize the Armed Forces in the fight against crime and drug trafficking.

“The public security situation in Mexico is already a matter of national security,” María de Haas, a specialist in that problem, told Efe after 35,000 homicides and record crime figures were recorded in 2019 during 2020.

“The seriousness with which organized crime subjects the population and puts the viability of the rule of law at risk” is of such magnitude, according to Hass, that López Obrador has had no choice but to adopt a measure that he opposed when was in opposition.

The decree of the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) was published this Monday in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) and guarantees the Armed Forces public security work until March 2024, in a complementary way to the National Guard, created a year and it is still under construction.

In short, López Obrador “has the power to dispose of the Armed Forces” to address the threat to the population, “said De Haas, historian and specialist in International Policy and Security at the Anahuac University of Mexico.

He added that the President of Mexico resorts to the Armed Forces “not because it is a simple solution but because it is a necessary decision,” which coincides with President Felipe Calderón’s (2006-2012) militarization strategy that López Obrador harshly criticized.

Haas explained that this responds to the problems of local and municipal governments “that must address public security problems and are not interested in doing so” and in some cases “are ignorant of that responsibility.”

A DECREE WITHOUT SURPRISE

To prevent the Army from becoming involved in the fight against organized crime, López Obrador launched the National Guard on March 26, 2019, made up of agents from the Military Police, the Navy and the now-defunct Federal Police.

For Javier Oliva, a security expert, the decree “is no surprise” because it is part of the process of legal normalization of the National Guard “and of the powers of the President in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.”

He recalled that since Carlos Salinas (1988-1994), Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000), Vicente Fox (2000-2006), Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) “all presidents, regardless of their partisan orientation, they have leaned on the Armed Forces to mitigate the problem of insecurity. “

He considered that López Obrador’s opponents are trying to take advantage of the context of the pandemic, now in the phase of maximum contagion, to criticize the decision and expose all kinds of conspiracy theories.

“Some say that they take advantage of the confinement of citizens to grant more powers to the Armed Forces, but it is false,” Oliva said, noting that the decree “is a sequence of the normalization of the activities of the National Guard.”

As an example, he mentioned that in the face of the health emergency, Navy agents have been patrolling for two weeks in Mexico City, covering casualties of the capital’s Police “and now they say they are surprised.”

The also researcher at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) explained that for him it is a “consistent presidential decree”.

TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT ARE CONCERNED

Although in the decree “there is nothing new because it was already planned”, for Santiago Aguirre, director of the prestigious Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights, “what has generated concern are the terms.”

He added that the agreement “deepens the militarization of the country” and confirms that “the central bet” of the current administration in terms of its security policy “is to continue making the Army and Navy, until March 2024, the protagonists of security public, not the National Guard, but the Armed Forces. “

Aguirre said that this work “may lead to new violations of Human Rights” as has occurred in recent history in Mexico and in “a context where the Armed Forces will hardly be held accountable” or will be controlled.

He added that the argument that it is better that the actions of the military are regulated than not, as happened in previous administrations, is not valid since he considered that “it falters with a concise and incomplete regulation.”

In this sense, the governor of the state of Chihuahua, Javier Corral, expressed his opinion that there is “concern and various interpretations for the way the decree was drafted”.

What is least convenient, including the Armed Forces, he added, “is to return to legal uncertainty.”

Corral pointed out that the Armed Forces are welcome as the first person in charge of public security tasks “as they currently do” (…), the problem is that the agreement leads them to this complementarity, other types of powers and powers of investigation, detention , which was not the spirit of the constitutional reform that created the National Guard “.

The decree gives the military powers of the National Guard such as crime prevention investigation, carrying out covert operations or conducting information analysis for the generation of intelligence and warned that it must respect human rights.

The Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection acknowledged that it requires the action “of the Armed Forces to deal with crime” because the National Guard “is still in the process of consolidation.”

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