” The proposal does not aim to militarize the country. (…) We don’t want an authoritarian state “, The Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (“ AMLO ”), has been repeating for days during his daily press conferences. However, on Friday, September 9, the Senate passed a series of laws that give the military control of the National Guard, previously on a civilian mandate. The reform of this public security body, created in 2019 by AMLO (elected in 2018), has aroused the outcry of human rights defenders who denounced a “Militarization of Mexico”.
This final vote, at second reading, is sparking fierce protests when AMLO promised, during his 2018 presidential campaign, to “send the soldiers back to their barracks”. The following year, the center-left president launched his new national guard, under the civil aegis of the Ministry of Public Security, with the aim, over time, of replacing the army, deployed by its predecessors to fight the cartels of the drug. But this security force remains, three years later, composed mainly of soldiers, now under the administrative and operational control of the army.
More than 2,300 deaths in August
A flip-flop justified by AMLO in view of the increasingly serious security crisis. The ongoing war cartels they are conducting to control drug routes in the United States have resulted in 2,304 died in August. The carnage is staggering: in the middle of AMLO’s six-year term, 109,000 murders were counted, almost double the murders (63,800) recorded in the first three years of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto’s tenure (2012-2018).
After the vote of the deputies, on September 3, the National Guard reform project was confirmed by a Senate dominated by the AMLO party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and its allies. In an electric climate, opposition senators denounced the risks of an explosion of violence linked to a greater army presence. AMLO deployed 150,000 soldiers on the territory, almost three times the military force assigned to security during the presidency of Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), criticized for involving the army in the fight against drug trafficking. A strategy pursued by his successors, Peña Nieto and, now, by AMLO himself.
In the days leading up to the vote, hundreds of Mexicans protested outside the Mexico City Senate against a “military national guard”. A protest supported by Edith Olivares Ferreto, director of the Mexican section of Amnesty International, who ensures “that there are more risks to the population when the soldiers are on the street”. This is concerned about the cases of torture and cruel treatment by the military. Twenty-five reports of murders involving military personnel were registered by the Ministry of Defense between 2019 and 2021.
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