MEXICO CITY -- The lower house of Mexico's Congress voted to approve the proposal put forward by the administration of the newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for the establishment of a new National Guard service aimed at combatting organized crime and increasing street level security across the country.
It has been over a decade since the administration of President Felipe Calderon first deployed the Mexican Armed Forces to the streets in order to combat the high levels of violent criminality in the country stemming from the gradual breakdown of traditional power and patronage structures and increasing proliferation of organized criminal groups and gangs. However, the deployment of military forces has done little to stem the overall level of violence in the country and deeply entangled the once detached Armed Forces in the messy and divisive business of street level policing and interacting with local politics.
The Mexican Government and various sub-regions have instituted various attempts over the years to form or formalize paramilitary organizations as well as a traditional gendarmie structure aimed at enhancing local security conditions but these efforts have often been compromised in implementation by endemic corruption and lack of oversight. The National Guard is intended to provide a state-level alternative to these efforts, though many of the same concerns expressed by politicians and the public regarding these previous institutions such as accountability on legal and human rights issues and the simple efficacy of armed policing remain prevalent with the National Guard.
The Guard will initially draw its manpower pool of 60,000 active personnel from the Armed Forces and Federal Police though it is expected to mature into an independent service over time. The National Guard will be overseen by civilian command authority but military officers will head the subordinate posts. Final approval for the establishment of the National Guard will come after the proposal moves through the Mexican Senate and a majority of regional legislatures.
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