The National Guard (GN) will receive an additional 50 billion pesos (US $2.5 billion) in funding over the next two years, President López Obrador announced on Sunday.
The new funding will “finish strengthening this institution by the end of 2023,” he said during the inauguration of new GN barracks in Xalapa, Veracruz.
López Obrador said the security force will have all the members it needs by the end of that year and they will be paid “fair salaries.”
It currently has 100,000 members, about three-quarters of whom were formerly soldiers or marines, but the government wants to increase its numbers to 150,000.
The additional funding will significantly increase the budget of the GN, which was created by the current government and inaugurated in June 2019. It received just under 29.3 billion pesos in funding last year and was allocated almost 35.7 billion this year.
An additional 50 billion pesos during 2022 and 2023 should lift the security force’s annual budget above 60 billion pesos (US $3 billion). Its announcement comes as Mexico continues to register very high levels of violent crime, although homicides decreased 3.5% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
López Obrador also said Sunday that the GN will have all the facilities it needs by the end of 2023, which will be the last full year of his six-year term. In addition to barracks, housing for troops’ families will be built, the president said.
He also reiterated his plan to incorporate the civilian security force into the army so that it is “incorruptible” and enduring.
The president, who has relied heavily on the military during his 2 1/2 years in office, said he didn’t want the GN – which is officially part of the civilian Security Ministry – to end up as part of a ministry that doesn’t have the discipline and professionalism required to manage the security force.
“We don’t want … what happened with the Federal Police to happen again. … It was established in one ministry and then it came to depend on the Interior Ministry and it was completely spoiled by corruption, it rotted,” López Obrador said.
“This institution [the GN] has to adhere to ideal principles, be incorruptible so that it can last through the years, becoming a branch of the Ministry of Defense,” he said.
“That’s the way it’s done in other countries, the civil guard belongs to ministries of defense, that’s the model we’re going to carry out – from an initiative I’m going to send to Congress, of course,” López Obrador said.
However, the likelihood of the Congress passing such a reform appears low because a two-thirds majority is required. The ruling Morena party and its allies don’t have a supermajority in the Senate and lost the one they had in the lower house as a result of last month’s elections.
In addition, the Labor Party, a key Morena ally, indicated last month that it doesn’t support the president’s plan.
The president in Xalapa also defended his use of the military in public security tasks, even though he promised prior to winning the 2018 presidential election that he would withdraw the armed forces from the streets.
“We have to count on the support of both the Defense Ministry and the Navy Ministry in public security work because they’re two fundament institutions, pillars of the Mexican state, … institutions that have discipline and in which there is professionalism…” he said.
Not only has López Obrador used the military for public security – albeit with an order to avoid confrontation with criminal groups wherever possible – he has also assigned a range of other non-traditional tasks to the armed forces including infrastructure construction and the management of customs and ports.