Mexican President to Make National Guard Part of Army
Mexico’s president has announced plans to merge the National Guard into the military, removing the skinny pretense of a law enforcement force used to get approval for its inception two years ago. By saying the Police was corrupt; President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador dissolved the Federal Police shortly after coming to office in 2018. He changed it with the National Guard under the nominal control of the civilian Public Safety Department. The idea was that a 100,000-member force would gradually allow the military to quit from enforcement duties. But the overwhelming majority of recruits, personnel, and training always came from the military, often on loan. Lopez Obrador said he planned to suggest a constitutional amendment to form the National Guard a part of the Department of Defense to ensure subsequent administrations wouldn’t cut its budget.
The last national enforcement force created in Mexico – the Gendarmes, created by Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto – suffered exactly that fate. However, the army’s participation in civilian policing has sparked criticism from the opposition and human rights organizations, who argue that the only answer to Mexico’s persistently high levels of violence is to wash up and strengthen the usually corrupt, underfunded, and poorly trained civilian police forces. Critics believe that the military’s involvement in various human rights abuses proves it’s neither drilled nor fitted to enforcement. Lopez Obrador has vastly enhanced the military’s role in the country’s economy and policy making. He has put the military responsible for ports and customs inspections and has given the navy half ownership of the multi-modal rail and port link in the country’s southern isthmus.
In December, he gave the military operating control and any profits from another pet project, the Maya Train across the Yucatan. The military would use any profits to finance military pensions, though it’s not clear the project will make money. Army engineers are already responsible for building many of Mexico’s infrastructure projects. Finally, just weeks before taking office, and even after Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the interior Security Law which might have legalized the military’s role in public security, López Obrador announced his intention to make a replacement National Guard assume federal policing functions. He proposed that the force should be made from soldiers and Federal Police agents and operate under the command of the military.
On February 28, 2019, Mexico’s Congress passed the constitutional reforms that created the National Guard while setting a five-year limit on publicly security tasks’ utilization. Three months later, on May 27, the law regulating the National Guard entered into force. Thus, the National Guard officially assumed all federal policing functions on New Year’s Eve, 2019, a decade after the creation of the Federal Police and 90 years after the outcome of Mexico’s first federal Police. While the Federal Police was marred by several cases of corruption and grave human rights violations, experts have argued that it might be better to focus on the force’s achievements and proper its flaws than to dismantle it all at once, given the importance of building efficient civilian police at the federal level.