by Raúl Romero
The presidential initiative to incorporate the National Guard into the Secretary of National Defense has generated an intense debate. In the absence of a project that convinces large social sectors, the alliance of right-wing politicians and businessmen has sought to capitalize on the discussion, using it to hit the current ruling bloc and position itself as an alternative. However, in the past we find evidence of how these groups promoted the process of militarization of the country.
In the 1970s, as part of Operation Condor, the United States carried out in Mexico a trial of “collaboration” between armies to combat the new enemy of the region, “drug trafficking”. Behind the euphemisms, this operation signified an escalation of the counterinsurgency war, as well as renewed U.S. interventionism in Latin America. It is no coincidence that this coincided with the dirty war or State terrorism, a period in which the Mexican State and its armed forces committed barbaric acts against popular organizations and against many of the peoples they encountered in their path.
The participation of the Mexican Army in anti-narcotics tasks did not mean reduction in the trade, on the contrary, drug trafficking became a flourishing business that found other commercial branches, which gave shape to the organized crime corporations that operate today. High-ranking military officers became links between the military and organized crime, as in the case of General Acosta Chaparro, who participated in the counterinsurgency war in the state of Guerrero, and who was later found to have links with organized crime.
It is important to frame the militarized security model in the context of the deployment of the neoliberal model in the region, a strategy that along with trade agreements and security alliances, such as the Free Trade Agreement or the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, have been translated into policies of “regional integration” and “hemispheric security”.
With this logic, during the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo, the Federal Preventive Police was created, a militarized police force whose first intervention was the seizure of the UNAM facilities, to put an end to the strike in defense of the free and public nature of the university that was held by the General Strike Council.
Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto then continued and strengthened militarized security, also using it to repress popular movements. Calderón’s six-year term stands out for the massive, open use of the Army in joint operations with local, state and federal police and, above all, for their actions favoring certain organized crime groups, a strategy that led to the expansion and brutality of the war.
The endorsement of the militarized security strategy by the current government means continuing along the same path and rejecting a historic social demand for the construction of alternatives for public, citizen and community security — a strategy distanced from the mandates of the United States and its “North Americanization” of security. Moreover, the military has not been brought to justice for past and present crimes, or for corruption, so the pact of impunity remains intact. It is the same structure and in many cases, even the same actors.
Today the old “mafia in power” claims to oppose militarization, when in fact they set the course and increased. dependency. Something similar happens with the extractive, energy and infrastructure projects being built by the current administration, many of which were designed by previous administrations and agreed upon in the context of regional trade integration. Although the “opposition” today dresses up as environmentalists and anti-militarists, nobody believes them, as we know well that their color is that of money.
But the most serious problem is not that the right wing is using these demands, but that the current administration is taking up these strategies again. Of course, this does not mean that nothing has changed; but in the area of militarization, among others, there is not only continuity, but also a deepening of the strategy, handing over the construction and administration of different mega-projects to the military, or exalting military values such as the supposed incorruptibility of the Army.
In WikiLeaks cable 06MEXICO505 (https://bit.ly/3qns2YP), it was revealed that since 2006 — before Calderon’s war—, the now President Lopez Obrador had already announced to the US government that he would resort to the military for the security strategy in Mexico, giving them “more power and authority” in anti-drug operations and making constitutional amendments.
The crisis of violence in Mexico is in part a consequence of the neoliberal model which, among other things, has been accompanied by the militarization of security and societies. That is why the battle for demilitarization is fundamental if we are truly against this model, and if we wish to chart a different course.
This article was published in La Jornada on September 11th, 2022.
https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/09/11/politica/seguridad-militarizada-20220911/ English translation by Chiapas Support Committee Oakland republished by Schools for Chiapas.