National Guard: Mexico one step away from returning to civilian control

Mexico City – The National Guard, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s big bet to combat insecurity in Mexico, is one step away from returning to civilian control and abandoning the protection of the military, according to a Supreme Court order.

Hours before the end of the January 1 deadline given by the Supreme Court to the government to comply with the sentence, the authorities have yet to clarify how the operational management and administrative control of the Ministry of Security and Civil Defense will resume. How is the process of starting from. The National Guard, which it had had since 2019 when the body was created to replace the defunct Federal Police and which was lost due to a legislative reform last year.

Although at the beginning of the month López Obrador was reluctant to let the National Guard relinquish control of the military, claiming it would cause “many problems”, the president changed his mind a few weeks later.

At his morning conference on 18 December, López Obrador said he would follow “without any problem” the decision of the Supreme Court, with which he remains in strained relations, and acknowledged that “we have no difficulties internally Because the Department of Defense continues to support the National Guard.”

Without giving details, the President said that “right now the Ministry of Public Security takes care of the Guard, but operational issues are more related to the Ministry of Defense.”

The Associated Press sought comment from the secretaries of National Defense and Security and Civil Defense on how the process of transferring the National Guard to civilian hands is going, but there was no comment at this time.

Since September last year, the National Guard had been under the control of the army after Congress, controlled by the ruling party, approved reforms promoted by López Obrador on the matter. Lawmakers also approved a reform to extend the permanence of the armed forces in public security operations to 2028.

The reforms drew strong criticism from opponents, activists and humanitarian organizations, who accused the president of deepening Mexico’s militarization by leaving public security in the hands of the armed forces, something López Obrador had rejected years before coming to power. When he promised to take it. The army should be removed from the streets and returned to the barracks.

Since 2006, military forces have played a key role in maintaining road safety in Mexico. Given numerous reports of human rights violations, humanitarian organizations and various UN agencies have called on the government to remove troops from public security operations.

In April the Supreme Court declared the military reform unconstitutional and gave the government a period of eight months to take over the administrative and operational management of the National Guard to the Secretariat of State for Security and Civil Defense, as provided in the Constitution. Rejecting the punishment, López Obrador announced at the time that he would place the corporation under the command of a retired general and receive military training and support.

According to data from the State National Institute of Statistics and Geography, of the 126 thousand elements that make up the National Guard, more than 80% come from the Army and Navy.

To counter the Court’s decision, the President announced that in 2024, the last year of his six-year term, he will send to Congress a constitutional reform project so that the Ministry of Defense can manage the National Guard and ensure that The body “do not spoil.”

During his administration that began in 2018, López Obrador has rested his security policy on the shoulders of the armed forces and the National Guard and deployed them throughout Mexico to confront criminal organizations and drug cartels, which wield powerful weapons. But this policy has been ineffective according to analysts because it is reactive and not supported by planning and intelligence work, which officials have rejected.

Activists and humanitarian organizations have also questioned why the federal government has not strengthened local and state police with equipment, personnel, and budget as part of security policies.

As hours pass, doubts arise whether the government will fully or partially comply with the Supreme Court decision. In this regard, lawyer Sergio Méndez, a member of the local civic organization Foundation for Justice, told the AP that the Supreme Court’s proposal is “mandatory compliance” for the executive, adding that if legal action is presented against parliamentary minorities, military reforms would be implemented. López could go to court to request the initiation of sanction proceedings against Obrador “which could lead to his removal from office.”

“After eight months of arguing that the sentence cannot be carried out, it seems to me that there would be no legitimate justification for it,” Mendez said.

(tag to translate)national

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