By KELIN DILLON
On Monday, Sept. 5, members from both sides of the aisle of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies met to discuss expanding the presence of the Armed Forces on the streets of Mexico rather than their barracks from 2024 to 2028 – as proposed by Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Deputy Yolanda de la Torre – just as newly released reports revealed that the Mexican Armed Forces have received a 20 percent hike in positions throughout the first four years of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) six-year term.
According to the Federation Expenditure Budget, the Mexican Secretariat of Defense (Sedena) grew from 215,243 positions in 2019 to 259,689 in 2022 since AMLO assumed office, an increase of 20.6 percent.
Now, the Chamber of Deputies’ news comes only days after López Obrador’s initiative to absorb the National Guard into the Sedena was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on Saturday, Sept. 3, in another show of Mexico’s continued militarization.
The collaborative Armed Forces agreement to bolster the armed forces is uncommon territory for the conservative PRI and the in-power leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), who are generally opposed against one another rather than aligned on legislative arguments in the Chamber of Deputies.
De la Torre’s proposal includes provisions to alter the transitory fifth article from the 2019 decree that created the National Guard, which states that “during the five years following its entry into force, and as long as the National Guard develops its structure, capabilities and territorial implementation, the president of the republic may have the permanent Armed Forces in public security tasks in an extraordinary, regulated, supervised, subordinate and complementary manner.”
Considering the dilapidation of many of the Armed Forces’ barracks into account and the continued yet still incomplete construction of planned barracks for the National Guard, De la Torre’s proposal would keep the Armed Forces on the street of Mexico for several more years than initially planned before returning to the barracks, from 2024 to 2028.
“A solid and effective police force is not built overnight. It implies long and complex processes, even more so when it is required to confront organized crime,” read De la Torre’s proposal. “For this reason, just three years after the creation of the National Guard and given the climate of violence that exists in various regions and entities of the country, it is useless to blame each other. This is not the time to polarize, but rather for the authorities to demonstrate high-mindedness and the will to build agreements in order to seek a solution and strategy that allows us to materialize the legitimate aspiration that all Mexicans have, such as living in peace.”
“We see that, unfortunately, the National Guard is not ready, in 2024 the Armed Forces have to leave and when that happens, what will the states and municipalities do?” De la Torre told the daily Mexican newspaper El Universal. “If they take away their support, the vulnerable population will remain. That is the reality of our country, and we must recognize it. This proposal leaves the constitution intact. The only thing it does is temporarily expand this support.”
The PRI’s usual ally, the conservative National Action Party (PAN), has expressed its concerns over the PRI’s implications of altering the Mexican Constitution to accomplish its goals and subsequently led to PAN President Marko Cortés calling on his peers to respect their agreed-upon constitutional moratorium.
“I say it with absolute clarity, the PAN does not agree with this modification because what it is doing is continuing to militarize the country, and we are not going to allow it as we continue fulfilling the commitment to society of a constitutional moratorium,” said Cortés. “We say no.”