President Lopez Obrador said he wants the Senate to include again a transitory clause that enables the military for public security duties.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’s “not satisfied” about the resolution on the National Guard approved by the House of Representatives and asked the Senate to include again an article that gives the military public security faculties.
The president said that by eliminating that transitory article the National Guard would be the Federal Police with another name.
“It will remain the same as if it was the new version of the Federal Police that we know didn’t work. It’s not the fault of its members. Since it was founded during Zedillo’s government, it wasn’t given strength,” said Lopez Obrador during a morning press conference Thursday.
“That’s why, even if it’s approved I’m making clear that I’m not satisfied because they removed a transitory article, among other things. But we must debate solving this all together,” the president continued.
The removed article would have reformed the constitution to enable the Army and the Navy to carry out public security duties for five years while the National Guard “develops its structure, capacity and national presence.”
It was Pablo Gomez Alvarez, deputy coordinator of Lopez Obrador’s party the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), who asked to remove the article during the negotiations.
Other important details that Lopez Obrador wants to amend through the Senate is giving those Armed Forces the responsibility to train the guard.
The lower house approved the resolution and its constitutional reforms on Thursday with the support of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a key vote to surpass the needed two-thirds majority to pass the constitutional reform. The National Action Party (PAN), which started the “war on drugs” with President Felipe Calderon in 2006 and took the military out to the streets, voted against.
When asked about the PRI voting in favor of the bill, Lopez Obrador said that he would like “an alliance with all, especially when dealing with public security,” but that he believes that having an opposition “is a fundamental element for democracy.”
The Senate’s political coordinator Ricardo Monreal, from Morena, said the proposal approved by the lower house will likely be modified to address Lopez Obrador’s petitions.
“I’m almost certain it will happen this way, but I have to discuss it with the parliamentary groups… we have to review everything, including training of this new group called National Guard,” said Monreal.
According to Monrael, the Senate will wait until the next ordinary period in February to address the issue.
After Wednesday’s session, some representatives told the press that not even Morena’s lawmakers agreed with the removed article.
Many social organizations and rights defenders groups present during the session protested the approval of the resolution, arguing the National Guard would only continue with the confrontational strategy adopted by previous governments and perpetuated the militarization of the country.
Some of the critics argue that having a civilian force with a military leadership would only perpetuate the militarization of the country. Answering to these demands, Lopez Obrador asked for the guard to have a civilian leadership for its administration while keeping another military one for operations and security.
PAN’s coordinator at the Senate, Mauricio Kuri, didn’t agree with the guard having two leaderships.
“We consider that the strategy is wrongly set out. We don’t think that a National Guard with a mixed leadership is best for the country. Even when there are two bosses in a private company there’s a power struggle and, therefore, it doesn’t have the efficiency needed. It’s only a change of shirt and the worst thing is that we’re militarizing the country.”
Miguel Angel Mancera, PRD’s coordinator and former mayor of Mexico City, expressed similar views on the National Guard’s leadership in the name of his party.
The National Guard will be a 60,000 strong security force to address the increasing insecurity and violence in the country. According to Lopez Obrador, the Armed Forces have so far focused on fighting organized crime, while the guard would have the objective to protect society.
The Security and Citizens’ Protection Secretary Alfonso Durazo said that the only institutions that were able to answer to insecurity were the Army and the Navy, while the National Guard wouldn’t be fully functional until 2021. It will be deployed in 150 high-risk regions in the country at first, slowly expanding its presence to 266 areas.
Its members won’t be able to take arrested people to military institutions and will be judged be civilian courts in case of committing a crime. The executive and legislative branches will evaluate the security police three years after its implementation to decide if it continues.
The bill compared the National Guard with the Spanish Civil Guard, the French National Gendarmerie, and other militarized police forces around the world.
Mexico’s National Guard is a historical group, which existed in the past and fought against the U.S. invasion in 1846 and 1848 and the second French intervention between 1862 and 1867.
The 1917 Constitution, still valid, mentions it eight times but doesn’t define it, which is what the lawmakers are trying to modify.