Mexico Now Deploys More Soldiers than Police in Public Security

The total number of military personnel deployed in the national territory for public security tasks now amounts to 261,644, while the state and municipal police total 251,760, according to new findings from the Ibero CDMX Citizen Security Program.

New findings from the Ibero CDMX Citizen Security Program (PSC) confirms that, based on official information, the total operational deployment of military personnel for public security in 2023 exceeds the total number of state and municipal police. The news is unprecedented in contemporary Mexico.

As can be seen in the graph and table, the total operational deployment of military personnel for public security now amounts to 261,644, while the state and municipal police total 251,760 (the figures for the deployment of the Armed Forces (FFAA) in 2023 seem to include personnel involved in “miscellaneous activities in support of operations”, which were previously classified separately). That is, this year the federal government considers that the entire operational force of the Armed Forces is deployed in security operations.

Graphic: military personnel deployed in public security activities and operational force status of state and municipal police. Sources: Access to information requests: National Guard 2800100042720 and 2800100004521, Annual Activities Report 2022; SEDENA 0000700116321 and 330026423000879; SEMAR 00001300080321; SESNSP 330027622000089. Government of Mexico: Annual Security Report 2020, Monthly Security Report December 2021, and Security Report August 2023.

Our country is experiencing five overlapping trends of militarization: the first is direct, which is equivalent to the deployment of the military in internal tasks; the second is called indirect, which occurs when civil institutions acquire characteristics and logic typical of military institutions; the third trend consists of structural changes within the military ranks to adapt to the extension of tasks other than its original foreign security mission; the fourth is the accumulation of structural power shown in the political influence for reforms, functioning as a hegemonic actor in security, and the fifth is the arrival of Mexico to a militarist government that celebrates the superior qualities of military institutions and places them as the above civilians.

All trends are easily verifiable as the evidence is overwhelming; but the developments do not cease to the extent that, as we said years ago, we are facing what seems to be an unstoppable cycle.

The PSC’s permanent monitoring system for militarization and militarism has created a repository where, since 2018, we have been adding various reference materials. Our most recent release was the interactive map of SEDENA confrontations 2007-2022, which, among many other findings, confirms on average one armed confrontation per day between members of the army and civilians in the 15 years of the so-called “War on Drugs.”, while showing the exponential multiplication of the number of civilians killed compared to those injured, in some parts of the country.

We want to reiterate the confirmation of the five aforementioned trends, from direct militarization to militarism. It is corroborated that the Mexican State has been giving the military increasingly wide margins of powers, resources, influence and territorial presence, with the civil government stepping aside in multiple functions both formally and de facto.

We said before that this path compromised the constitutional and democratic State of Rights; now, in light of a six-year term that ends with a president who continues to deny militarization and militarism, describing the issue as an “opposition” agenda, what we ask ourselves now is whether this impulse by civilians to vacate functions and the military to occupy them has ended up irreversibly disrupting the subordination of the latter.

To be more precise, does the military veto power already compromise the superior decision-making margin of the current presidency and the next?

Original article by Ernesto López Portillo at
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

Want to receive our weekly blog digest in your inbox?

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top