President López Obrador issued a call yesterday to members of the new National Guard not to overstep their bounds in the use of force and to respect human rights while in the line of duty.
The president presented a contingent of the new security force during a visit to Minatitlán, Veracruz, in the wake of last week’s massacre of 13 people.
It was the force’s first deployment and evidently a hurried one: secondary laws governing its operation remain to be approved and not all its personnel were wearing the Guard’s new uniform yesterday.
The government has sent 1,059 personnel to three Veracruz municipalities — Minatitlán, Cosoleacaque and Coatzacoalcos.
Speaking to local residents, the president said more vigorous policing was only one measure in a larger plan to restore peace and prosperity to the country’s most troubled areas.
He also said special measures were being taken to ensure the appropriate use of force.
“We are putting emphasis on ensuring that [the National Guard] can carry out their duty of guaranteeing public safety while respecting human rights with a gradual and appropriate use of force so they do not cross the line, and so that human rights are respected at all times.”
Creation of the new force has been widely criticized for being another military presence on the streets of Mexico and a threat to human rights given the record of the military over the last dozen years.
López Obrador said that when he took office, the Federal Police force numbered only 10,000 officers.
In contrast, the army and navy were composed of 220,000 and 65,000 troops respectively, but they could not be used to enforce public security because of constitutional limitations.
“So we said, let’s amend the constitution; we need to create a national guard because public safety is what’s most important.”
Speaking of last week’s attack on a bar that killed 13 people, he told residents they were not alone.
“I have come to tell you that you are not alone; you have the support of your government.”
The president outlined plans to promote economic growth, providing aid to the area’s oil and gas industry, programs for agricultural workers and work and study opportunities for youths to offer alternatives to crime.
Source: Milenio (sp)