By MARK LORENZANA
Elements of the Mexican National Guard (GN) were deployed throughout Mexico City’s Metro Collective Transportation System (STC) on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 12, starting at 2 p.m., after Governor Claudia Sheinbaum announced during Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) daily morning press conference at the National Palace that there have been recent events in the Metro that she classified as “unusual.”
On Saturday, Jan. 7, a collision between two trains on Line 3 of the STC on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 7, left one person dead and more than 106 injured. Critics have mostly laid the blame for the tragedy on the Mexico City governor.
“Episodes have been occurring in recent months that we classify as out of the ordinary, which are not what normally happens in the Metro. And for this reason, yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), I asked for a meeting with the President of the Republic and requested the presence of the National Guard in the Mexico City Metro,” said Sheinbaum. “This proposal was accepted, and today, starting this afternoon, the National Guard will be present in the Metro stations and in some other facilities, with 6,060 elements.”
Sheinbaum appeared to suggest that the mechanical problems that have plagued the STC the past several months might have been out of the ordinary, but she did not outright say that there has been any sabotage.
Sheinbaum clarified that the GN will jointly monitor and patrol the Mexico City Metro, along with the capital’s Auxiliary Police force and Banking and Industrial Police (PBI). She added that GN personnel will be deployed “for a few months,” after which “the results will be evaluated.”
In 2019, Sheinbaum announced a plan to reinforce the STC with 5,000 combined elements of the Auxiliary Police and the PBI. At that time, the Mexico City governor even said that the security forces to be deployed would receive special training specific to protecting citizens who are commuting in the Metro.
For his part, López Obrador said the GN would be there to prevent “provoked,” or intentional accidents.
“What we want is for there not to be psychosis, for people not to have to worry about some accident in the subway, and that it could have been provoked,” AMLO said. “If they call that militarization or whatever, then we will take responsibility for that.”
Mario Alberto Hernández, head of one of Mexico City’s subway stations, said he believes “this decision is more about politics than anything that would be useful here.” He said that the STC system’s lack of spare parts is so bad that “they are cannibalizing old, discarded trains to get spare parts.”
The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez human rights center, in statement to Reuters, said the announcement “is concerning, because it is obvious that this agency reproduces the military’s problems with a lack of transparency and excessive use of force.”
With this deployment of more than 6,000 elements, the Mexico City Metro now has more members of the GN than 29 states in Mexico.
The deployment of the GN in the Metro exceeds, for example, the number of troops in Michoacán, with 4,640; Jalisco with 4,500; Veracruz with 4,045; Sinaloa with 3,989; and Chihuahua with 3,090.
Likewise, there will also be more guards assigned to the STC than there are currently in Guerrero, which has 2,951; Sonora with 2,007; Zacatecas with 1,420; and Baja California, which has 1,639 GN troops.
The current number of GN troops in the STC now only rivals Guanajuato, the Mexican state with the most homicides in the country, with 6,644 GN elements.
According to a report from Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), which was updated this month, there are a total of 128,233 GN agents throughout the country.