Tuesday, 16 April 2024
TechAMLO insists on stripping the National Guard of its civilian mask

AMLO insists on stripping the National Guard of its civilian mask

MEXICO CITY (Process).– After last April the ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) frustrated one of the great legislative bets of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, by resolving that the National Guard should be under the civilian command of the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) and not the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), the president lowered his guard and will abide – for the moment – ​​by the resolution of the highest collegiate body.

Although the National Guard passes to the SSPC, López Obrador has not failed to mention that in 2024 he will present a new reform initiative so that the Army has operational and administrative control of the corporation.

He has indicated that he hopes to present the new initiative in his last government report on September 1, 2024 and that he trusts in having a qualified majority in Congress to modify the Constitution and “shield” the National Guard.

He even explained that he is waiting until next year so that the new legislators can be elected and thus have a qualified majority for the approval of the initiative.

The Court declared unconstitutional the decree that transferred operational and administrative control of the National Guard to the Secretariat of National Defense, arguing that the corporation had emerged with a civilian character.

The president’s maneuver occurs in the midst of relative failure, by dismantling the defunct Federal Police and failing to ensure that the National Guard was made up of only recently recruited civilian personnel, as he reiterated from the beginning of his mandate. On the contrary, when he assured that hundreds of young Mexicans would come to request their registration in the corporation, only a few dozen showed up. That forced him to integrate it, according to official data, 97% with personnel from the Army and the Secretary of the Navy.

However, the big pending issue is the Army in the streets.

The necessary regulation

On October 5, 2022, the Chamber of Deputies approved the minute from the Senate that proposed extending the use of the Armed Forces in public security tasks until 2028.

Previously, on September 14, the deputies approved a reform to transitional article 5 of the 2019 constitutional decree that created the National Guard, to endorse this extension.

By resolving the unconstitutionality action 137/2022, promoted by opposition senators, the plenary session of the highest court invalidated the nodal part of the legal reforms that allowed the National Guard to be integrated into the armed forces.

When they discussed the effects of this decision, the rapporteur minister Juan Luis González Alcántara Carrancá proposed that the ruling be applied from December 1, 2023, however, during the analysis it was noted that the transfer of the responsibilities of the National Guard of one secretariat to another would imply financial forecasts that would only be possible in the 2024 Federal Expenditure Budget (PEF).

For this reason, he considered that, by setting the deadline for January, the agencies involved will have the necessary time to gradually carry out the readjustment in the administrative, budgetary and operational control of the National Guard, since, according to article 21 of the Constitution, it corresponds to the SSPC.

González Alcántara. Deadline / Photo: Eduardo Miranda

Thus, in the PEF 2024, a budget of 37 thousand 810 million 495 thousand 53 pesos allocated to the SSPC was contemplated, destined for the operation of the National Guard for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes.

The ministers’ decision was based on article 21 of the Constitution, which defines the National Guard as a civil public security institution. Without reforming this constitutional precept, it was not possible to put it under the administrative, operational and hierarchical control of the Sedena.

However, the reform is not enough to guarantee that the command at the head of the corporation emanates from civil society:

On January 16, 2023, López Obrador announced that General David Córdova Campos was replacing General Luis Rodríguez Bucio as commander of the National Guard and appointed the latter undersecretary of Public Security of the SSPC.

In the speech he gave in June 2023, within the framework of the fourth anniversary of the creation of the National Guard, Córdova Campos pointed out that it already exceeded 128 thousand elements between soldiers and sailors, which represents 79.5% of the projected 161 thousand troops. by the end of 2024.

Likewise, the operational force deployed is 113,409 elements, that is, 44% of the “national effort.” For this reason, he said, the country today has a security body whose operational troops deployed throughout the national territory exceed the permanent armed force.

Regarding infrastructure, Sedena assigned 100 facilities in strategic locations in the country to company-level units of the National Guard. In addition, with the support of military engineers, 295 facilities have been built in their entirety, 124 are in the construction process and 138 in the project phase, which will allow for 557 buildings by the end of 2023, added to the 100 spaces already mentioned.

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Relief in command of the National Guard / Photo; Miguel Dimayuga Meneses

It was even compared with the 32 countries that have a National Guard or equivalent corporation, of which 16 have a military organization model, among which the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, the Spanish Civil Guard and the Colombian Police stand out. , who actively confront criminal organizations in their countries.

However, the obligations of the National Guard that were not modified include the obligation of the armed forces to present a semiannual report to the Senate on their participation in public security tasks.

The reformed transitional article 5 establishes that while the National Guard develops its structure, capabilities and territorial implementation, the armed force may be used in security tasks for five years. That article was approved in 2019, so the deadline expired in March 2024.

But at the proposal of Yolanda de la Torre, former PRI senator and current president of the Superior Court of Justice of Durango, the extension was endorsed to nine years, that is, until 2028.

Given the disagreement of the legislators of the opposition parties and the need for their votes, the Senate included measures that seek to guarantee that there are actions aimed at demilitarizing public security, such as reports, reports with indicators, appearances of officials, issuance of recommendations and budget.

Furthermore, it was established that when the Judiciary resolves amparos, unconstitutionality actions and constitutional controversies that are currently frozen and that challenge militarist actions, these will be resolved without taking into account this reform that in fact endorses militarization at a constitutional level.

However, the approval is conditional on the president reporting to Congress every six months how he has exercised the power to use the Armed Forces in security tasks, what he is doing for the transit of a civilian National Guard, and what is being done to that the Army returns to its barracks in 2028.

According to the regulatory document, it must include “quantifiable and verifiable indicators that allow evaluating the results obtained in the reported period in terms of public security, and corroborate respect for human rights.”

To analyze and rule on these reports, a bicameral commission of deputies and senators must be formed, which may convene the heads of the Ministry of the Interior, the SSPC, the Sedena and the Secretary of the Navy (Semar).

This opinion must meet requirements such as evaluating compliance with five conditions that the Constitution already states that must be met when the Armed Forces participate in security tasks.

The conditions: the participation of the Armed Forces must be extraordinary, that is, it must be accredited as “absolutely necessary, temporary and expressly requested and justified by the civil authority”, and regulated, as it must comply with the Constitution. international laws and treaties.

It must be supervised, through constant supervision, and in a subordinate and complementary manner, that is, in aid of civil police forces. The opinion prepared by the bicameral commission must indicate the federal entities where the permanent presence of the Armed Forces is no longer required.

It will also have to contain “recommendations” to meet the withdrawal deadline for the Armed Forces, which will be March 2028.

The plenary sessions of both chambers must analyze and approve these opinions and send them to the Executive. This “must report on the attention given to the recommendations issued.”

Additionally, given that the Senate has the exclusive power to approve the national public security strategy, it is stipulated that when it reviews the annual report that the Executive sends it on the National Guard, its evaluation must focus on the demilitarization of the work of security.

This review must tend to “guarantee that at the conclusion of the period (March 2028) the permanent Armed Forces conclude their participation in public security tasks, and the National Guard and other public security institutions fully assume the powers” ​​of security .

The modifications included the co-responsibility of the governors, who must send each year to their congresses and the National Public Security Council “the comprehensive evaluation, in a six-year perspective,” of the situation of their entities and these evaluations “will be the basis for adjustments and execution schedule.”

The obligation to provide a budget for the plan to strengthen state and municipal police that disappeared during the López Obrador administration was also included: “Starting in fiscal year 2023,” a permanent fund will be created to support the federal entities and municipalities designated to public safety.

Said fund will be independent of any other branch or program, and its amount was stated that “it may not be lower in percentage terms than the increase received by the permanent Armed Forces and the National Guard for public security tasks each year.”

Negative figures

From January 2019 to March 2023, Sedena, Semar and the National Guard accumulated 4,012 complaints before the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). In the same period, that autonomous body issued 14 recommendations to the National Guard for violating the human rights of 730 people. That is to say that every two days a person was violated by some element of the corporation.

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Training / Photo: Benjamín Flores

Everywhere you look, the numbers disfavor the National Guard. In 2022, the corporation reported having released only 29 kidnapping victims, when the annual number of victims of this crime was 724. It also reported that it carried out 796 specialized actions to locate and identify people, while in that year 9,151 people were reported. missing and not located, according to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System.

In July 2021, through an Agreement of the National Public Security Council, it was established that the deadline for certifying all elements of the National Guard would be May 31, 2024. To find out about progress on this requirement, the Observatory Citizen of the National Guard, prepared by María Elena Morera, sent a request for information to the corporation asking how many elements had been certified since its creation.

The response received was that, from 2019 to April 17, 2023, the Single Police Certificate (CUP) had been granted to 62,629 members of the National Guard, of which 7,447 were in the evaluation process. That is, four years after the start of operations, 49% of the elements of the GN had the CUP, while the rest operate irregularly due to not having their complete accreditations, which could have an impact not only on their performance in general, but also in the validity of his work as first responder in the crimes.

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