Sunday, July 21, 2024

President-elect Sheinbaum confirms she will support military control of National Guard

President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum has reiterated her view that the National Guard should be part of Mexico’s military.

In February, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) sent a constitutional reform proposal to Congress that aims to reincorporate the National Guard (GN) into the Defense Ministry (Sedena).

López Obrador, who inaugurated the National Guard as a civilian security force on July 1, 2019, placed the guard under Sedena’s control in 2022. The Supreme Court ruled in April 2023 that the transfer of responsibility from the civilian Security Ministry after the modification of secondary laws was unconstitutional.

At an event with the president on Sunday to inaugurate new National Guard facilities in Oaxaca, Sheinbaum said that starting Oct. 1, it was up to her government to “continue strengthening and consolidating the National Guard as part of the Defense Ministry with the constitutional reform that is before the Congress.”

She will be sworn in as Mexico’s first female president on Oct. 1, while the new Congress — in which the ruling Morena party and its allies will be in a strong position to pass a range of constitutional reforms proposed by AMLO — will commence on Sept. 1.

Therefore, it is possible that recently-elected lawmakers will have approved the proposal to put the National Guard under military command by the time Sheinbaum takes office. To do so, the Morena-led coalition will require the support of a few opposition senators as it fell just short of a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

President-elect Sheinbaum stands in a row with President López Obrador and military and National Guard officials
President-elect Sheinbaum accompanied President López Obrador and military officials at the event Sunday in Oaxaca. (lopezobrador.org.mx)

Sheinbaum said Sunday that the National Guard, “in just five years, already has the recognition of the people of Mexico,” although insecurity remains a problem in various parts of the country and homicide numbers, while declining, are still very high.

She also said that the National Guard, which has more than 130,000 members, “has the objective of … looking after the people of Mexico with discipline, honesty and dedication, [while] providing justice and peace.”

“… Thank you to everyone who is part of this noble institution. Long live the National Guard,” Sheinbaum said during her address at the event held just south of Oaxaca city.

The president-elect, who has previously indicated support for all of the constitutional reform proposals AMLO sent to Congress in February, is committed to maintaining the current government’s security strategy, under which employment and welfare programs seek to address poverty, lack of opportunity and other root causes of crime.

Marines and National Guard on a beach in Cancún
Though the National Guard is not currently under military command, the two security forces regularly work hand-in-hand. (Cuartoscuro)

López Obrador, who has argued that the National Guard needs to be under the control of the military to prevent corruption and guarantee the force’s professionalism, said Sunday that he was very pleased to hear Sheinbaum’s commitment vis-à-vis the security institution his government created.

“You can imagine the pleasure it gave me to hear … the president-elect of Mexico, the soon-to-be constitutional president and commander of the armed forces, announcing a moment ago that the National Guard is going to form part of the structure of the Ministry of National Defense, as it should,” he said.

“It’s very good news,” added the president, who has relied on the military for a broad range of tasks including public security, infrastructure construction and the management of customs, ports and airports.

Amnesty International warned before the National Guard was put under military control in 2022 that doing so would lead to more human rights violations. Opposition parties also opposed the move.

The National Guard, which effectively replaced the now-defunct Federal Police, has been criticized for lacking the capacity to investigate crimes, and the conduct of some of its members has been the subject of criminal investigations. Guardsmen have been accused of a range of crimes including sexual assault, kidnapping and murder.

With reports from La Jornada and Reforma

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