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  • President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador prepares to detail his security plan to the media, in Mexico City, Mexico Nov. 14, 2018.

    President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador prepares to detail his security plan to the media, in Mexico City, Mexico Nov. 14, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 November 2018

Mexico's president-elect presented his future National Peace And Security Plan, but many fear continued militarization.

The transition team of Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) presented the new National Peace And Security Plan 2018-2024, which aims to combat an increasing lack of security that started with the so-called “war on drugs,” to restore confidence in institutions.

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The plan was presented by Alfonso Durazo, the future security minister, and aims to “reformulate” the “war on drugs” with the implementation of different measures to pacify violence currently plaguing Mexico. The plan includes a conditional amnesty for certain crimes, and disarmament and reintegration programs as well as the creation of a 50,000-member National Guard, that will be trained by the army and the navy and put under the direct command of Lopez Obrador.

“These are special laws to end the armed confrontations, make disarmament and handing over of the criminals possible, guaranteeing their rights and offering them reduction of sentences,” Durazo said during the presentation of the plan. “Even the possibility of amnesties conditioned by the pardon of affected individuals and groups, proposing them a change of life.”

Durazo explained that it’s necessary to abandon the “fantasy” that insecurity and violence can be overcome with unique and unidimensional solutions such as the “repressive military” strategy.

Instead, the minister-elect detailed that an alternative security plan needs to establish multidimensional and “radical” strategies aimed at the root of the crisis of violence that is affecting the country.

The plan consists of the following eight points:

1. Eradicating corruption and reactivating the rule of law. Political privileges and tax havens will be eliminated and government acquisitions will be monitored in real time. The declaration of assets and taxes of public servants will be mandatory.

2. Guaranteeing employment, education and health through development and well-being programs to reduce poverty and marginalization.

3. Total respect for human rights. Repression and torture will be eradicated and every human rights violation will be investigated. “No one else will be tortured or disappeared by a state security force member.”

4. There will be a moral constitution for the ethical regeneration of individuals and society. The government will be thrifty, honest, inclusive and respectful of liberties.

5. Reformulating the war on drugs and reorienting resources for reintegration and substance abuse treatment. “The prohibition of certain drugs is unsustainable.” Creating peace will be based on the four points of transitional justice: truth, justice, repairing damage, and guarantees for non-relapse. Laws will be enacted to end armed confrontation and enable the process of disarmament.

6. Do everything possible to find missing people.

7. Recovering control over prisons and promoting dignity for those held therein, as well as programs for social reintegration. “Sinking offenders hopes is not the best option to promote their reintegration.”

8. A new public security plan for the reconstruction of a peaceful culture at the hands of institutions and the people. The armed forces will be redirected to strengthen its links with society. A National Guard will be created for the prevention and combat of crime.

The national guard, according to Durazo, will, at first, be comprised of members of the Federal Police and military and navy police. Volunteers from the armed forces will be integrated in the second phase. While, the third, and final phase, will enlist young civilians who wish to participate.

Durazo disclosed that the process could take up to three years.

Luis Sandoval, who has been appointed by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as the next Secretary of Defense, talks to the media about Obrador's security plan ahead of his inauguration on Dec. 1, in Mexico City, Mexico Nov. 14, 2018.  Photo | Reuters

AMLO said that, in order for this plan to work, it’s necessary to end corruption and strengthen values. “One and a thousand times we’ve repeated this — we can’t combat violence with violence,” he said during the presentation of the plan.

The president-elect promised a different approach to security by his government, but the proposed plan does not address the problems within already existing security bodies. Some concerns have been raised regarding the proposed National Guard being trained by existing security institutions that have been accused of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances since the start of the war on drugs. This could just mean a consolidation of the military in the streets.

AMLO acknowledged that he has found himself at a crossroads, stating that the federal police does not have the necessary training and staff to combat crime, as well as lacking “professionalism and integrity.”

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“We had two options. At the end of the day, politics is choosing between inconvenient options, and a decision must be made. Relying on the armed forces, that’s the decision we took,” AMLO said.

Durazo argued that current police forces are not sufficiently prepared to confront organized crime and that it would be “disastrous” to suddenly remove the military from duties of public security.

According to the president-elect, the concept of a National Guard already exists in the constitution, which was used during the U.S. and French military interventions in the 19th century.

Mario Delgado, National Renewal Movement (Morena) coordinator of representatives, said that Mexico has not been able to recover peace or the rule of law in the 12 years of the militarization of public security. However, he agreed that removing officers would leave some regions “totally vulnerable to organized crime,” and that a regulated National Guard would fill the need to prevent and combat crime. At the same time, it would set a legal framework for the void found in the use of armed forces in public security duties, the coordinator explained.

Mexico's so-called war on drugs, which has claimed numerous lives, began during the presidency of conservative Felipe Calderon. AMLO will take office on Dec. 1, but his Morena party has already taken over both legislative houses and have implemented many of the president-elect’s campaign promises.

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