Progressive Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says that if he had his druthers, he would disband his country’s entire army and replace it with a new militarized police force.
What are the details?
According to Reuters, Lopez Obrador told Mexican newspaper La Jornada Monday, “If were up to me, I would get rid of the Army and turn it into the National Guard, declare that Mexico is a pacifist country that does not need a military and that the defense of the nation, if necessary, would be done by all.”
The leftist leader conceded, however, that such a move is not politically viable.
“I can’t do it because there is resistance,” Lopez Obrador said. “One thing is what is desirable and another thing is what is possible.”
President Lopez Obrador’s admission comes just a day after his country held a ceremony celebrating the newly established National Guard, a law enforcement institution aimed at tackling Mexico’s rising violent crime, ABC News reported.
But critics say the National Guard is simply a federal force that could strip the power from local law enforcement entities. Alejandro Schtulmann, president of the Mexico-city based political risk firm EMPRA told ABC, “They are just rebranding something so that it’s not called the army — but it’s the army.”
Mexico’s National Guard was ratified by its congress in March and was launched with 70,000 members. President Lopez Obrador hopes to increase its strength to 150,000 troops across the nation.
According to VICE, it “will eventually incorporate members of the marines, army and federal police,” and the outlet cited an expert who explained, “it’s kind of like if the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, National Guard and Coast Guard operated under a single command.”
Lopez Obrador has already deployed National Guard troops to patrol Mexico’s borders in an attempt to reduce the flow of Central American migrants traveling through the country en route to the U.S.
For decades, Mexico’s army has been used to help fight the nation’s powerful domestic drug cartels rather than engaging in international conflicts. Last year, the country’s murder rate hit its highest level in 20 years, and is on track to climb even higher before the end of 2019.