Mexico has been increasing its armed forces’ role in public security for many years, but the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has just taken it to historic new lengths.
In 2019 López Obrador created a new militarized national police force, the National Guard. The original plan, as laid out in the constitution, called for this force to be under civilian leadership and control.
This year, the President changed his mind. He proposed legislation to move the National Guard firmly within Mexico’s Defense Ministry, making it a new branch of the armed forces, within the military chain of command. That legislation quickly passed both houses of Mexico’s Congress during the first half of September.
(See WOLA’s September 2, 2022 analysis: Mexico Deepens Militarization. But Facts Show it is a Failed Strategy.)
WOLA Mexico Program Director Stephanie Brewer explains what is happening and the grave potential risks for human rights, civil-military relations, and Mexico’s young democracy. Brewer argues that, in fact, the road to resolving Mexico’s citizen security challenges runs through its justice system—not its armed forces.
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