More than 17,000 National Guard troops will be deployed to Michoacán as part of a federal government plan to strengthen security in the violence-stricken state.
At an event in Morelia on Saturday, President López Obrador announced a “support plan for Michoacán,” which also intends to expand government social programs and upgrade hospital infrastructure. In addition, the plan makes the payment of teachers a federal responsibility.
Accompanied by members of his cabinet, López Obrador expressed his full support for new Michoacán Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, who represents the ruling Morena party.
He said Ramírez will be responsible for coordinating the expansion of federal social programs, such as the “Youths Building the Future” apprenticeship scheme, designed to steer young people away from a life of crime, among other objectives.
“[I want to] express very clearly our support for the people of Michoacán, we’re going to continue helping and we’re going to have more actions in benefit of the people, more actions for the wellbeing of the michoacanos,” López Obrador said.
Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said that more than 17,000 additional National Guard troops will carry out coordinated actions to guarantee security in Michoacán, Mexico’s third most violent state in the first eight months of 2021. Among the municipalities where security will be bolstered are state capital Morelia and Uruapan, both of which are among the 50 most violent municipalities in the country.
Cresencio also said that new National Guard barracks will be built in three Tierra Caliente municipalities over the next two years. Six hundred troops will be stationed in each of Tepalcatepec, Aguililla and Apatzingán, the army chief said.
Cresencio said that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is engaged in a turf war with the Cárteles Unidos in the notoriously violent Tierra Caliente region, has been driven out of the towns of Tepalcatepec and Aguililla due to the actions of federal security forces. The criminal group has retreated to Michoacán’s border with Jalisco, he said.
“Military presence was achieved in the towns, movement of traffic was reestablished … and the provision of supplies was reestablished,” Cresencio said, adding that people displaced due to violence had begun returning to their homes.
López Obrador stressed that the government won’t wage a war against cartels to restore peace in Michoacán, nor favor one criminal group over another.
“The [government’s] security strategy is well defined, it’s not about declaring war, that’s already been left behind because in addition to being inhumane that strategy was a complete failure. That’s not the strategy nor is it fighting one group and protecting another. It’s legality without impunity for anyone, it’s not about favoring anyone,” he said.
The president also said the federal government has provided resources for the payment of salaries to teachers, some of whom have been blocking railroads in Michoacán to protest the state government’s failure to pay wages.
Governor Ramírez, who succeeded Silvano Aureoles on October 1, said his government inherited a 20-billion-peso (about US $1 billion) bank debt and a budget deficit of almost 18.8 billion pesos.
López Obrador’s weekend visit to Michoacán was his first since January. The president had clashed with Aureoles, especially after the former governor accused Morena of colluding with organized crime to win the June 6 elections.
With reports from El Universal