Mexican Naval Secretary José Rafael Ojeda Duran. Photo: Google


The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Mexico’s Naval (Semar) Secretary José Rafael Ojeda Durán on Friday, July 16, for stating that he considers the country’s judiciary branch as an “enemy” because it includes judges who prevent arrests.

“This is a clear symbol of the militarization of Mexico and the degradation of the rule of law in the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Very dangerous,” warned José Miguel Vivanco, HRW director for the Americas, on his social networks.

Vivanco described as “outrageous” the statements of Ojeda, who complained at the president’s morning press conference about the actions of the judges in the capture of drug lords and drug seizures.

“There are many cases in which we are penalized for trying to arrest criminals,” Ojeda said.

“It seems that we are dealing with an enemy in the judiciary, and we have to close that circle well to be able to carry out the arrest,” said the head of the Secretary of the Navy, when answering a question from a reporter about a seizure of methamphetamine in Guaymas, Sonora.

In apparent response to Ojeda Durán’s comments, Mexican Supreme Court (SCJN) President Arturo Zaldívar later tweeted that “the function of federal judges is to defend human rights and the constitution. An independent judiciary is essential in a democracy.”

Since AMLO took power, the HRW pointed out, Mexico’s armed forces have played an ever-more-influential role of the country’s justice system, with the creation of the National Guard (GN) and a reform that authorizes its members to participate in public security tasks.

The Institute for the Economy and Peace (IEP) warned this week that military spending in Mexico had its highest level in 2020, while that of public security its lowest point in 12 years.

Military spending last year represented more than 140 billion pesos, an annual growth of 7.6 percent, while investment in public security fell 4.5 percent, to about 40 billion pesos.

In addition, López Obrador has asked to investigate judges by accusing them of serving “private interests.”

Because of all this, Vivanco said that the “rule of law is under attack in Mexico,” adding that “this should be a wake-up call” for the country.

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