a timely and informative essay on The Conversation about whether the Mexican armed forces should continue to be used as a police force. Excerpt:
In December 2016 Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Mexico’s minister of defence, declared that fighting the war against drugs has “denaturalised” the Mexican military. Soldiers, he said, are not trained “to chase criminals”.
If 52,000 soldiers are going to be deployed on a daily basis, he argued in a December 2016 article in the newspaper El Universal, they need clear rules to operate within a human rights frame.
Cienfuegos demanded a law that would establish a finer legal distinction between public security (the purview of the police) and internal security (specific threats requiring military intervention).
That (seemingly reasonable) request spurred today’s Congressional debate on internal security. Each of Mexico’s three main parties has presented its own bill. There’s the PRI’s, put forward by César Camacho Quiroz and Sofía Tamayo Morales; the PAN’s, stewarded by Senator Roberto Gil Zuarth; and the Revolutionary Democratic Party’s (PRD), tabled by Senator Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta.
It’s unclear exactly what kind of “certainty” these proposals might bring. There are differences between them, but all evoke déjà vu because they refer to organised crime as a potential threat to internal security and justify involving the army by pointing to the incapacity or corruption of local police.