By KELIN DILLON
One year after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) greenlighted the construction of hundreds of nationwide barracks for Mexico’s National Guard in December 2020, the country’s total barrack count has grown by 123 – but so has Mexico’s rate of violence in tandem.
According to the National Public Security System (SNSP), between January and October of 2021, Mexico experienced some 84,637 homicides throughout the country; 41,089 of these murders, or 48.55 percent of the total, took place within Guanajuato, Baja California, the State of Mexico (EdoMéx), Chihuahua, Michoacán and Jalisco, the very same states where the aforementioned 123 barracks were constructed and are now hosting 100,000 National Guard members.
With such an increased military presence in these regions, the surrounding area’s homicide rate was surely expected to go down. Instead, murders continue to keep piling up throughout Mexico, begging the question of exactly what the barracks (and the National Guard itself) is doing to help keep the country and its population safe from danger.
In fact, violence has increased within the already-determined most dangerous municipalities throughout the country, with 21 out of 50 of these having experienced increase intentional homicides in 2021 compared to the year previous, though this could have been affected by Mexico reopening after a long-term standstill caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Still, the fact that violence is growing in areas where the National Guard has been sent to stifle it not only raises concerns about National Guard’s effectiveness, but about the massive, ever-growing expenditure it has received for operation, with another 112.5 billion pesos in budget approved for the military offshoot in 2022.
As the National Guard’s barracks and budget continue to grow, it remains to be seen whether Mexico’s inherent violence problem is quashed as well, or if AMLO keeps pumping funds that could be better attributed to other government projects or agencies back into the National Guard in vain.