MEXICO CITY — Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has proposed laws that may switch the nation’s nominally civilian Nationwide Guard to whole army authority, finishing a dramatic shift for a politician who earlier in his profession referred to as for troopers to return to the barracks.
Along with the dizzying political evolution the change would mark, the proposal is nearly sure to face constitutional challenges.
López Obrador created the Nationwide Guard in 2019, arguing that Mexico’s federal police have been hopelessly corrupt and incapable of confronting Mexico’s highly effective drug cartels. He enshrined it within the structure, placing it below the authority of the civilian public safety equipment.
Critics argue that reforms to enabling laws liable for the Nationwide Guard just isn’t adequate to shift its constitutionally established civilian authority to the army.
“It is rather clear in Article 21 of the Mexican Structure that establishes first that the Nationwide Guard is a physique of civilian character and below the authority of the Safety and Citizen Safety Secretary,” mentioned analyst Ana Lorena Delgadillo, director of the Justice Basis. “So any change that you simply wish to make to maneuver the Nationwide Guard to (the protection ministry) must cross first although a constitutional reform.”
She added that even when they tried for a constitutional reform lawmakers would want to judge if placing the Nationwide Guard below army command can be in step with the spirit of civilian safety that governs the structure.
López Obrador now not seems to have the votes in Congress for a constitutional reform.
In his proposal, López Obrador makes a multi-pronged argument: civilian police forces have did not safe the nation; the army is Mexico’s most trusted establishment; and, the Nationwide Guard is already primarily a army establishment.
Of the greater than 110,000 members of the Nationwide Guard, greater than 80% got here from the military and the navy, the president notes. The Nationwide Guard is barely functioning due to the army management that organized it and the army’s intensive logistics capabilities.
A lot of López Obrador’s proposal reads as an ode to the army as a central pillar in Mexican society. The tone is one Mexicans will acknowledge. The president has given the army extra obligations than any Mexican chief in current reminiscence placing them answerable for not solely battling drug cartels, but in addition gasoline theft. He had them construct a brand new airport for the capital and a vacationer practice on the Yucatan Peninsula. They construct financial institution branches in rural areas and have been key within the authorities’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The switch of operational and administrative management of the Nationwide Guard to (the protection ministry) responds to the fast necessity to beat administrative obstacles and the provision of sources,” López Obrador wrote, happening to argue that it’s the solely strategy to match the geographic breadth, logistical capabilities and firepower of organized crime.
The army has been within the streets in a essential safety function for years, nicely earlier than López Obrador took workplace. It has been accused of human rights abuses and the United Nations has lengthy referred to as for it to be taken out of policing.
Neither the Nationwide Guard nor the army have been in a position to decrease the insecurity within the nation, nevertheless. Final month, organized crime teams rampaged in 4 states in every week’s time, burning companies and killing bystanders.
Critics say the Nationwide Guard lacks the investigative and intelligence capacities of a police drive. They’re a visual presence on patrols and reply to violence, however do little to stop it.
Sen. Emilio Álvarez Icaza, an impartial politician, mentioned that final yr, the Nationwide Guard reported making 14 arrests product of its personal investigations — there have been many different arrests in circumstances the place they caught individuals in unlawful acts. They reported turning over 50 individuals accused of organized crime to prosecutors.
“The Nationwide Guard has 115,000 members; it’s a catastrophe in its personal numbers,” he mentioned.
“They consider that by being there it fixes issues and nothing occurs,” Álvarez mentioned. “They consider that doing nothing is greatest. They consider that their presence inhibits and that’s absurd.”
López Obrador’s proposal doesn’t handle the query of how the army is the proper establishment to guide what he continues to name a nationwide police drive. The president speaks usually of the impunity that plagues the nation, however it stays unclear how a safety drive composed of and lead by the army will have the ability to carry out the work of regulation enforcement essential to carry criminals to justice.
The package deal of reforms was submitted to Congress forward of the beginning of its new legislative session Thursday.
AP writers Fabiola Sánchez and Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.