By MARK LORENZANA
According to the results of a survey released by Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, which was carried out from Aug. 18 to 23 of this year by the survey firm Buendía and Márquez, the majority of Mexicans support the move to use the armed forces in the fight against organized crime, despite the increased militarization of the country under leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Now, security experts believe that the population’s major approval of the Army is due to social and humanitarian work that it carries out in Mexico, and not because of its fight against organized crime.
María Elena Morera, president of nongovernmental organization Common Cause, said that having the military and marines on the streets has not solved the violence in the country.
“The military has been involved in drug-trafficking issues since the 1980s, and the drug problem as a whole has not been resolved,” she said. “And it has been involved in security issues as well since Felipe Calderón’s six-year term, and insecurity has not been resolved either.”
Morera pointed out that people in Mexico, on the contrary, love the military because it is visible during calamities and other outreach programs.
“People are used to seeing the military when there is a flood, an earthquake, so it has a good public image,” she said. “But its work in ensuring public security is a different matter. What results has it had?”
Catalina Pérez Correa, an academic at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), said that she believes that López Obrador has been using the confidence that the citizens have in the Army to justify the extra powers he has granted it so far during his term.
“The president wants to use the confidence that people have in the Army, and the approval that it expresses for curbing organized crime,” Pérez Correa said. “He is trying to justify giving it all kinds of powers in the guise of public security. People don’t actually want that.”
For his part, David Saucedo, a specialist on security issues, said he believes that there is a feeling of admiration for the military among the population, although its performance in law enforcement, public security, respect for human rights and transparency leaves much to be desired.
In an interview with El Universal, Saucedo mentioned that, surprisingly, in 2021 only members of the Mexican National Guard (GN) had complaints against them for alleged participation in extrajudicial executions.
“As far as I know, no element of the GN has been punished for these alleged acts anyway, nor have the superior officers who gave the order,” Saucedo said. “It is very common for these types of events to occur in the armed forces, but the worst thing is that those responsible for violations are not punished.”
Saucedo added that the continued militarization of the country will result in more human rights violations and corruption.