Monday, June 24, 2024

AMLO defends using armed forces for security in Army Day speech

President López Obrador defended his government’s use of the armed forces for public security tasks during an Army Day address on Sunday, asserting that their “greater participation” in the fight against crime is not indicative of “authoritarianism or militarization.”

Speaking at the Santa Lucía military base in México state, López Obrador declared that the military – which has been authorized to carry out public security tasks until 2028 – is a “fundamental pillar of the Mexican state.”

Members of the Mexican army
The Mexican armed forces have been given broader responsibilities and funding during López Obrador’s term. (Gob MX)

He noted that the National Guard – a security force the current government created – is now part of the Ministry of National Defense and has 128,000 “trained, organized and disciplined” troops dedicated to protecting the people of Mexico from “crime and other ills.”

“Because of that and the responsible, coordinated, persistent and honest work of the members of the [federal] security cabinet as well as state and municipal authorities, we’ve been able to reduce federal crimes by 33% [since we took office] – homicide by 10%, vehicle theft by 38%, robbery in general by 20%, petroleum theft by 95%, femicide by 29% and kidnapping by 76%,” López Obrador said.

“Despite what our adversaries maintain – the conservatives in general – it’s important to point out that the greater participation of the armed forces in security tasks doesn’t imply authoritarianism or militarization … of the country,” he said, referring to a claim also made by some international organizations including Human Rights Watch.

“On the contrary, it has been proven that society feels safer and more protected with the army’s fulfillment of this mission. In other words, people feel that a soldier is one of them in uniform … and like the majority of Mexicans, maintains a great reserve of cultural, moral and spiritual values,” López Obrador said.

“Contrary to what happened before,” he added before making a contentious claim, “there are no violations of human rights” committed by security forces.

“The police forces and military don’t torture, massacre or disappear people. The lethality index for [security force] confrontations with organized crime groups was the lowest in 15 years in 2022,” López Obrador said.

Earlier in his address, the president outlined “five basic missions” of the armed forces:

  • Defense of the country in case of foreign aggression.
  • Guaranteeing “interior security,” including via the protection of national infrastructure.
  • “Assisting the civilian population” through government initiatives such as literacy, reforestation, water supply, education and health programs.
  • “Carrying out civic actions” and building infrastructure “for the progress of the country.”
  • Responding to disasters and “rebuilding affected areas.”

“The government I represent has strengthened the five main missions,” said López Obrador, who pledged before he took office that he would remove soldiers and marines from the nation’s streets, but as president backed legislation that authorized the use of the military for public security until 2028.

Soldiers participate in a ceremony in the state congress of Tamaulipas (SedenaMX Twitter)

“… There are two [missions] that have been strengthened like never before in the history of the armed forces,” he said before explaining that the creation of the National Guard has bolstered the military’s second mission.

“… The other mission that has strengthened like never before is the construction of infrastructure projects for the development of Mexico. The military engineers have been protagonists in the transformation that is being carried out in our homeland,” López Obrador said.

He noted that the military under his leadership has built 269 barracks for the National Guard, more than 2,000 branches of the government’s Banco del Bienestar (Wellbeing Bank) and the Felipe Ángeles International Airport, among other projects.

López Obrador also observed that “military engineers are building bridges, viaducts [and] highways, modernizing and equipping customs” and contributing to the construction of the 1,500-kilometer-long Maya Train railroad, which will link cities and towns in five states in Mexico’s southeast.

The army will soon manage a new state-owned commercial airline to operate under the currently-defunct Mexicana brand, he added.

At the conclusion of his speech, López Obrador thanked the military for the “loyalty” it has shown to the Mexican people and nation and the “great support” it has provided to his government.

Mexico's Sembrando Vida tree planting program
The president has relied on the military for his signature projects, including the Sembrando Vida reforestation program, the Maya Train and the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (Semrbando Vida Twitter)

“Congratulations to all of you on this historic day,” he said on the 110th anniversary of the issuance of a decree that instructed the formation of a force opposed to the government led by Victoriano Huerta, an army general who seized power from revolutionary president Francisco I. Madero in a coup.

“Congratulations for the fulfillment of your duties as soldiers, officials, chiefs and commanders … and in particular, [I express] my recognition of the Minister of Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval González, for his dedication and honesty.”

Mexico News Daily 

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