The Mexican Military Grows 68 Percent for Security Tasks

By Dialogo
September 26, 2011

The Mexican Armed Forces have increased the use of their personnel for public-safety tasks by 68 percent since 2006, according to a study by the Center for Economics Research and Teaching (CIDE). When Felipe Calderón took office as president of the Republic, there were 30,000 military personnel deployed in the country, while at the end of this year there will be 51,000 personnel in uniform.

The report Superar la impunidad: Hacia una estrategia para el acceso a la justicia en México (Overcoming impunity: Toward a strategy for access to justice in Mexico), coordinated by Mariclaire Acosta, affirms that in addition, “in 14 of the Republic’s 32 federal entities, the head of the agency in charge of public safety is a member of the military, while in 6 entities, those in charge of local police institutions are military personnel, without counting the presence of military personnel at the head of municipal police forces and of some state security agencies in at least 25 states,” the Mexican newspaper El Universal reported, according to the CIDE report.

The report highlights the fact that 36 percent of the directors of public safety in the 50 municipalities with the most homicides in the country hold military commands, and that public safety in the five municipalities with the most homicides –Acapulco, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Culiacan, and Tijuana– is headed by a retired member of the military, without this directly impacting a decrease in reported killings.

In its Report on Citizen Security and Human Rights of December 31, 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) warned members of the Organization of American States (OAS) about the growing participation of the armed forces in public-safety tasks.

The IACHR warned that “it is essential to make a clear and precise distinction between internal security as a function for the police and national defense as a function for the armed forces, since they are two substantively different institutions, insofar as the purposes for which they were created and their training and preparation are concerned.”

President Calderón embarked on a fight against organized crime and drug trafficking upon taking office five years ago, resulting in the dismantling of 185 drug laboratories, among other notable successes, according to his annual report on his administration delivered on September 1; criminal organizations were prevented from selling 57.811 billion doses of drugs, causing them losses of 12.742 billion dollars.

Also, since a list of the 37 most dangerous leading drug traffickers was published in March 2009, the authorities have killed or arrested 21 of them.