Mexico to recruit military veterans for new National Guard
The Mexican government will recruit retired soldiers and marines to serve in the National Guard, a new public safety organization being promoted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador .
At his morning press conference on Monday, the president said that an open enrollment initiative to enable retired marines and soldiers to sign up for the project “under certain criteria” is being put together.
He also noted that there will be new personnel in the unit, for which 50,000 recruits will be needed, although both active-duty military personnel and members of the Federal Police will also be in its ranks.
Last week, the Mexican Congress approved the National Guard’s creation, albeit with some changes to Lopez Obrador’s controversial original proposal which called for the force to be under military command.
The revised plan emphasizes the civilian character of the force and calls for the gradual withdrawal of the armed forces from law enforcement tasks within the space of five years.
Lopez Obrador’s original concept was criticized as a perpetuation of the militarization of law enforcement begun in 2006 under then-President Felipe Calderon , who gave the armed forces the leading role in battling organized crime, a strategy that was accompanied by an explosion of violence that claimed 200,000 lives.
On Monday, the president said he expects the majority of state legislatures to approve this week the constitutional reform to create the National Guard.
The constitutional reform includes a law for the management and use of force, as well as the type of weapons the group would be allowed to use, the leftist president said.
“All this to avoid human rights violations,” Lopez Obrador said.
The president has argued that the National Guard amendment will end the “irregular” situation arising from years of using the military for law enforcement without any constitutional basis.
Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, enacted a controversial Internal Security Law that formalized the army’s responsibility for public safety, but the legislation was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador said that the federal government’s security cabinet does not have any “recent information” on the ITS organization, an extremist environmental group blamed for at least one killing and several bombings in Mexico.
“We have information from other organizations that are acting and are outside the law, causing violent acts,” he explained.
Media outlets have reported that ITS is responsible for attacks in municipalities in the central state of Mexico in recent months.
This eco-extremist group, which has a presence in other countries such as Chile, is said to have detonated several bombs, including one in a cathedral.
Some years ago, the group was also deemed to be responsible for the murder of a chemist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the country’s most important higher educational institution and one of the most prestigious in Latin America.