As many as 50,000 military and security personnel have been deployed to police the streets around Mexico since Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn into his presidency last week.
The Secretary of Public Safety, Alfonso Durazo, recently explained that military, federal and naval forces have so far been sent to 150 regions of the country.
The decision comes from a string of campaign promises which saw AMLO vow to put an end to the violence that currently dogs the country. The failures of the previous government have seen unprecedented levels of violence, much of which is associated with organised crime groups, leading to countless civilian deaths.
Policing across Mexico continues to come under fire as a result of poor funding, ill-trained officers and a number of vacancies in the police force. Decades of corruption, combined with cartel influences and staggering levels of impunity, have further fuelled a system of police abuse that appears to stretch far and wide across the country. Arguably more noticeable the further away you get from the country’s capital, there is an overwhelming distrust for Mexican police to this day.
This lack of confidence in the Mexican police is merely accentuated by the unprecedented levels of violence that are taking place in both the capital and regions further afield. Last year was documented as the most violent in the country’s modern history with regards to mortality rates, and this year is expected to surpass it. It was also in Acapulco a few months ago that the entire police force was disarmed after the discovery of major drug cartel corruptions.
Steps have also already been made by the Morena government to create a militarised national guard that would be tasked with policing public areas and reducing crime levels in the country. Prior to AMLO becoming president, it was already a common notion to see the military line the streets and instil a sense of heightened security in major areas. The former Internal Security Law had caused considerable controversy since its introduction last year, citing the normalisation of military force in internal security enforcement. The law was recently ruled unconstitutional by Mexico’s Supreme Court, paving the way for AMLO’s introduction of the national guard.
According to Animal Politico, the new president will wait for Congress to pass a reform bill before his plans for a national guard officially come into play. Despite this, however, Durazo’s statements suggest that heightened security presence has already come into action.
The proposed national guards will be allowed to make arrests much like the role of the country’s police force.
It was just over two months ago that the incoming government floated the idea of recruiting 50,000 young people to join the new national guard. According to statements at the time, the plan was to be implemented the day that AMLO came to power and would provide good wages and social security, in a bid to entice more people to join.
There remains scepticism around the effectiveness of using military force to police the streets, and with a failing police system, whether civilians can even trust the military to protect them further.