Mexico: The military returns to the streets 

When Felipe Calderón took office, soldiers began to implement operations against organized crime

Mexico: The military returns to the streets 
The enrollment of the army in public security tasks is not new in Mexico - Photo: Luis Cortés/EL UNIVERSAL
English 12/05/2020 09:13 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:24
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Amid the most critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Branch finalized a pending issue in the decree published on March 26, 2019: the militarization of public security. From now on, the military will join the National Guard to carry out public security tasks “in an extraordinary, regulated, audited, subordinated, and complementary manner.”

The enrollment of the army in public security tasks is not new in Mexico. Since December 2006, when Felipe Calderón took office,  soldiers began to implement operations against crime, especially against organized crime. During the following administration, led by Enrique Peña Nieto, authorities used the same model; by the end of the Peña Nieto administration, the government approved the Interior Security Law, which allowed the involvement of the military in security tasks; however, it was contested and it was never implemented. In November 2018, the Supreme Court determined the law was unconstitutional and invalid, therefore, it was abolished. 

The main argument of those who propose to create a legal framework for the militarization of security is that the army has been involved in these tasks for over a decade. 

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The response of national and international organizations, including the UN, has been that the international standards propose to restrict those interventions to the minimum and instead to strengthen civilian organizations. In several polls, the Mexican military always emerges as one of the most trusted institutions but that hasn’t prevented it from facing human rights violations and abuse accusations after it carried out tasks that are out of their jurisdiction.

An equilibrium between civilian-military powers must exist in democratic societies. Assigning public security tasks to the armed forces damages that balance. 

What will take place from now on, seems to carry a feeling of failure in regards to public security. Firstly, Mexico wasn’t able to develop armed forces that are able to face insecurity, including the National Guard because according to official numbers, it hasn’t been able to contain insecurity

The opportunity for the country to return to a constitutional state has been buried with this presidential decree. These are the same old ideas to fix the same old problem.

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