By MARK LORENZANA
The plenary session of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, approved the reform — jointly initiated by legislators of the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) — to extend the Armed Forces on the streets until 2028 for public-security tasks.
There were 339 votes in favor of the initiative, 155 votes against it and two abstentions. The reform has been turned over to the local congresses in the country for ratification.
As expected, majority of those who voted for the reform were from Morena, the administration party of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Deputies from the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) Mauricio Prieto, Francisco Javier Huacus and María Macarena Chávez likewise voted in favor, as did majority of the legislators from the PRI.
Among those who voted against the initiative were Morena members Inés Parra, Roberto Valenzuela and Manuel Vázquez, as well as PRI deputies José Yunes and Sue Ellen Bernal.
Adela Ramos, from Morena, and PRI member María Sánchez Escobedo abstained.
In his daily press conference on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 12, López Obrador touted the “achievement” of Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López, who AMLO said was instrumental in obtaining the support of the majority of PRI legislators to achieve the reform.
López Obrador likewise insisted that extending the Mexican Army’s presence on the streets until 2028 will not lead to increased militarization, and pinned the blame — as he is wont to do — on the “conservatives.”
“What did the conservatives do with the Army? Use it to repress, and without a constitutional foundation,” AMLO said.
“Illegally they used the Army, the Navy for public-security tasks, and without without respect for human rights. They are hypocrites. Now that a constitutional reform is made, with an emphasis placed on human rights, now these conservatives are suddenly making noise.”
The Mexican Army enjoys unprecedented public approval — around 80 percent, according to surveys — but it has been involved in several cases of alleged human rights violations and abuses, and even alleged links to drug cartels and organized crime.
AMLO has regularly boasted of having reduced the number of murders per month, but his administration is still set to be the most violent in the country’s history.