A month ago, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, described as “transitory” the health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. With a half smile, he assured that the country was going to come out stronger and that even the emergency came “ring to the finger to strengthen the purpose of transformation” of the country. But the last of these changes has gone in the opposite direction to one of its great electoral flags: the demilitarization of public security and the fight against drug trafficking.
López Obrador, who he promised for years to return the army to the barracksThe previous presidents have achieved what Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto failed: in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a decree has been published in the Official Gazette of the Federation that grants extraordinary powers of public security for the Army and the Navy and to serve as backup for the National Guard.
The National Guard, supposedly civilian but made up mostly of former military personnel, was the unsuccessful bet to face the country’s other great disease, the enormous levels of violence. March, with more than 3,000 murders, was the most violent month since July 2018. Since Felipe Calderón ordered the Mexican army to patrol the streets of part of the country to fight drug trafficking in late 2006, nearly 275,000 people have been killed in Mexico.
The decree will be in force while the National Guard develops and establishes the deadline for March 27, 2024, almost at the end of López Obrador’s term, and allows the military to legally execute security functions such as arrests, manage crossings migratory or carry out operations to “restore order”, which until now could only be carried out by civilian police.
The decree is supported by a constitutional reform approved in 2019 for the creation of the National Guard, where it was said that the president could use the military for police functions for five years in “” extraordinary “situations. According to experts and associations such as the Collective Security Without War, the decree “takes off the mask” to the militarism of security in the country.
Surprising, in addition to the moment of emergency, for AMLO’s political career, which made the return of the army to the barracks one of its political flags for almost a decade. In the 2012 elections, he promised that if he won, he would return the army to the barracks in six months. In 2016, he declared that the military was worn down by their police duties. After winning the elections, three years were set for them not to patrol the streets.
But the reality is that throughout his six-year term, the military has been monopolizing more and more spheres of public life. They are the builders of the new Mexico City airport and will also be in charge of its operation and management with its own company. They will also help build part of the Maya Train, the great public work of López Obrador. In addition, in the midst of a health crisis, the Army is also managing a dozen hospitals and health resources.
Participants in public works
These large investment projects were declared a priority during the health emergency. That is, while the work and the private businesses have had to stop; The Maya Train, the new airport or the new Dos Bocas refinery continue to be built and move forward. So much so that, by decree, the producers of steel, cement and glass have only been able to continue working to meet the delivery times established in these public works.
On April 22, when he announced the guidelines of his Contingency Plan, López Obrador reported that 622,556 million pesos will be invested, on 23,000 million euros, to increase the budget allocated to these projects, oil production and its social programs, without announcing, as they demand from society, a rescue plan for small and medium-sized companies.
In budget issue, the health sector, the National Guard and, of course, the Defense and Navy secretariats have exceptional treatment. Too, on the energy issue, all renewable energy projects in the country have been stopped with the excuse of the coronavirus, which is in line with the oil policy promoted by the Government.
Deputy Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, historian of the Mexican left, representative of López Obrador’s party and a kind of Pepito Grillo who is not afraid to say publicly when he believes that the president is wrong, criticized the expression that the emergency came as a “ring to the finger”.
The phrases transcend the sexenios. The president said yesterday that the pandemic “came to us like a ring on the finger”, others feel it as “the rope around our neck” and many of us are locked up with “the shackle on the ankle.” Each one his crisis.
– Porfirio Muñoz Ledo (@PMunozLedo) April 6, 2020
For this voice of conscience, others feel “the rope around the neck” or the “shackle at the ankle”. According to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, a respected body in charge of measuring poverty in the country, this crisis will leave 9 million more poor people in Mexico.