Analysis: Can AMLO's National Guard fix Mexico's violence crisis?
This week a group of civilians disarmed and held hostage Mexican troops, firmly demanding their weapons for self-defense back. LPO consulted several specialists about the decades-long security crisis unfolding in Mexico.

Monday at the crack of dawn, a video in social media shocked the whole country: a civil unrest, with the use of force, subdued, disarmed and kidnapped a troop of soldiers in the municipality of La Huacana, according to Silvano Aureoles, governor of Michoacan.

As confirmed by the governor, the troops of the Secretariat of National Defense were rescued and are uninjured; however, as heard in the video footage, the residents of that rural community had high-powered weapons (including .50-caliber Barret rifles) that were confiscated and demanded to be returned.

"We want you to send us all the weapons in a private car to La Huacana. We are the people of this village and we are waiting for the weapons. You must send them on behalf of the people. Here are your boys and we will not release them if you do not give us the weapons that you took from our people" refers a man in the video.

In his morning press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke about the situation in Michoacán and said that troops of the National Guard will arrive soon to offer support in all tasks regarding public safety.

"Just like the health issue is very complex, because we inherited unresolved problems, so is the security problem; it is very serious, one of our major and most serious national problems", the president said.

And made it clear that, as of June 30, the new public security forces will arrive first to those places were security is most needed.

President López Obrador and Luis Rodríguez Bucio, chief of the National Guard

None of the security analysts consulted by our staff expressed optimism for the actions of the National Guard as a solution to the matters of violence and insecurity in the country, particularly in the case of the "auto defensas", citizen groups that took arms to defend against the criminals in states like Michoacán and Guerrero. "More than 80 percent of the paramilitary forces do not have criminal links; for instance, this can be verified by the design and caliber of the weapons." said Jorge Márquez Muñoz, a specialist from UNAM.

Márquez Muñoz, who holds a PhD in Political Science, also said that "the National Guard won't be enough. The accumulated experience of organized crime in the last years is such that requires a much greater intelligence policy reform than simply amending the law and creating a new law enforcement."

The Governor of Michoacán Silvano Aureoles Conejo said that the strategy of closing roads or "pushing to the front of the protests women and children" will not stop the efforts to disarm civilians in the state

He said that the National Guard troops are not seen as a plague in many regions of the country, and he that the president could look for similar actions to solve this particular case, such as the integration of some citizen groups to the municipality police forces in some of these communities and the seizure of weapons meant for the exclusive use of the Army.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Michoacán Silvano Aureoles Conejo said that the strategy of closing roads or "pushing to the front of the protests women and children" will not stop the efforts to disarm civilians in the state. And in this, Horacio Vives Segl, PhD in Political Science for ITAM university, agreed: "This Government should not act the same as the Peña Nieto administration, because the auto defensa groups are not becoming a law enforcement force to stop being a threat, on the contrary, you run the risk of incorporating corrupt elements within the police."

The specialist added that the Executive Power, like in past administrations, is still acting reactively against crime and "not anticipating" its strategy. "The problem is quite complex, based on multiple factors, and this Government has missed a valuable opportunity to put an end to violence. There is a sense of impunity, that nothing is being done to tackle significant problems regarding criminal activities", said Vives Segl.

"I understand [why the current administration wants to] rebuild the social fabric, but it was a mistake not to fight back drug cartels. There are contradictory incentives: the Government is not curbing the flow of weapons into the country, there is no seizure of drugs either. There is a lack of response from the Federal Government. Let's take into consideration the contradictory situation that occurred in Minatitlán: the President was celebrating the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Veracruz, instead of condemning the massacre". On the 19th of April fourteen people, including a one year-old baby, were gunned down by a criminal commando in Minatitlán, Veracruz.

Nonetheless, for Héctor Andrade López, another specialist in political analysis, AMLO has a support from the people that past presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto never had, and whose grip is found in the agreements he forged with community leaders of auto defensa groups and community police forces. Local leaders like José Manuel Mireles or Nestora Salgado are a good example, with whom he could request support for his National Guard.

Andrade explained that "Peña used some of these leaders, while Calderón tried to legalize the activities of some of these community defense groups, but he never saw them eye to eye. AMLO did, and he shook hands with them, that's why many voted for him, and that´s why they to this day defend the president´s proposal."

According to Andrade Lopez, the president´s strategy is match the national security policies with welfare programs: "I do not see a prepared National Guard, nor does it seem to me that this problem will be resolved in six years. The troops of the cartels are unquantifiable. This must be solved structurally. That's what AMLO tells us in every opportunity he has: please give me a chance, and if you do, please be patient." 

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