Not only is the National Guard under military control, but throughout the country it has permeated the culture of militarization, and this is evidenced by the presence of military commanders in security tasks in 34% of the country’s entities and a good part of municipalities.
According to Common Cause, there are around 53 military commanders who have control of state and municipal police in practically all entities and displace those responsible for security with police and civil training and training.
Although the discussion of reforms to extend until 2028 the use of military force in security tasks by the National Guard is still on stage – a constitutional reform that will be approved this week in the Chamber of Deputies so that it runs the route of its approval in the state congresses–, the military domination from the state and municipal security secretariats is a fact.
To date, 11 state governments of Morena and its allies have military personnel in charge of their Public Security Secretariats: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Colima, Guerrero, Morelos, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala and Zacatecas.
Another 11 entities governed by the 4T have civilian police commands, but it is in the municipalities that there is also an upward trend in militarization, explains María Elena Morena , from Causa en Común.
It stands out that in Mexico there is a high degree of domination of the military culture in public security, infrastructure works, migration issues, health, customs.
This Friday, October 7, Political Expansion published that as part of the documents revealed in the hack known as #GuacamayaLeaks, it became clear that it is the Army – and not the Secretary of Security – that monitors the commanders and requests reports from the staff. military deployed in public security, which according to experts would be the exercise of a parallel authority not provided for in law.
“We no longer know who rules over whom. We no longer know if the Army rules over the president or the president rules over the Army”, explains the activist.
According to David Saucedo, a specialist and consultant in public security, Mexico is experiencing two phenomena of militarization: one at the federal level, which is the one that has attracted the most attention and has been the subject of parliamentary debate and controversy, and an analogous phenomenon of the militarization, but of the state public security corporations.
“And the political transition has accentuated it, since there seems to be a central guideline for public security commands to have military origin,” he adds.
The truth is that the public cases of corruption scandals in the Mexican Army or human rights violations committed by its personnel, Saucedo maintains, belie the main argument advanced by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to insist on the path of militarization of security and that in his opinion it is an incorruptible institution.
The disclosure of documents via #GuacamayaLeaks, which show human rights violations, sumptuary expenses, sexual violations of female elements, cover-up of these cases and even what was reported a few weeks ago regarding the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students: that the military had a participation in the murder of the young people and in the concealment of the corpses and that Military Camp Number One and others were illegal detention centers, shows the reality.
“Little by little we realize the type of Army we have. It is not an Army that has the conditions to respect human rights, nor that is characterized by transparency. It is not exempt from corruption, so the narrative of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the sense that the Army is impervious to corruption and illegality because it falls by itself”, Saucedo abounds.
“Militarization is not positive, we have already seen examples (in history)”, highlights the expert
For example, in the government of Vicente Fox, General Rafael Macedo de la Concha was Attorney General of the Republic; in that of Ernesto Zedillo, General José de Jesús Gutiérrez Gutiérrez Rebollo was head of the National Institute for the Fight against Drugs. In Mexico City, General Enríquez Salgado Cordero was also secretary of public security.
Regarding these facts, the expert points out that the results are emblematic, for example, Macedo de la Concha was asked to resign after Fox withdrew from the removal of immunity from Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
“In the case of Gutiérrez Rebollo, he was arrested and sentenced on charges of criminal association with Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the ‘Lord of the Skies’. And General Salgado Cordero was involved in a scandal involving the disappearance of young people in the Iztapalapa delegation,” review.
“Of these experiences of militarization I do not find that there has been a successful one. We have some exceptions, for example the consolidation of a security scheme in the Laguna area between Coahuila and Durango. But the experience in general does not give good results”, he adds.
Dismissals and scandals
A review carried out by Political Expansión to the Secretaries of Public Security of the entities reveals that of the 11 Secretaries of Security with a military profile in governments of Morena and allies in at least four entities there have been military commanders dismissed due to lack of results or due to the wave of violence, executions or disappearances in those territories.
But in two of those states, Baja California Sur and Colima, a military man was reappointed.
In contrast, in Puebla, with the government of Morena, and Jalisco, governed by Movimiento Ciudadano, a civilian command was chosen.
In Baja California Sur, which is governed by the morenista Víctor Castro, he barely took office in September 2021 and is already in charge of his second security officer: the ship’s captain Luis Alfredo Cancino Vicente, appointed on May 25.
This command replaced the captain of the Secretary of the Navy Javier López García, who lasted just nine months in office.
In Colima, Governor Indira Vizcaíno, who took office in October 2021, also had to relieve a military officer, Ship Captain Manuel Llerandi Ruiz, and instead opted for another, Marine Infantry Ship Captain Diplomado de General Staff, Héctor Alfredo Castillo Báez, appointed last September 28.
The morenista president explained the change as a natural rotation, but this was preceded by a wave of violence unleashed by clashes between criminal groups of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and Los Mezcales.
In Puebla, Governor Miguel Barbosa Huerta is the one with the record for changes in security officials: four since he took office in 2018.
On January 24, he appointed a civilian: Daniel Iván Cruz Luna, professor at the Institute of Legal Studies of the State Superior Court of Justice. But among the three previous responsible ones already figured a military man: the marine Miguel Idelfonso Amézaga.
In Jalisco, emecista Enrique Alfaro decided at the end of 2019 to remove retired General Daniel Velasco Ramírez from his post, weeks after bagged human remains appeared with a message denouncing alleged links between his staff and organized crime; in his place he appointed Juan Bosco Agustín Pacheco, lawyer and former Guadalajara Police Commissioner.
In addition to the aforementioned cases of Baja California Sur and Colima, they complete the picture of the state governments of the 4T with a military command, Baja California, where Governor Marina del Pilar appointed Division General Gilberto Landeros on January 1. Briseño, as Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection of the State.
It stands out in the trajectory of this having been part of the Parachute Rifle Battalion, commander in the 2nd Military Zone in Tijuana, Baja California and the 36th in Tapachula, Chiapas. And as undersecretary was the Staff Officer Santana Octavio Martínez.
In Guerrero, the icing governor Evelyn Salgado appointed, as soon as he took office on October 15, 2021, the Marine and former deputy director of intelligence operations Evelio Méndez Gómez, as Secretary of Security.
In Morelos, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, an ally of Morena because he came from the Social Encounter Party (PES) and is now allied with the Social Democrats, appointed Vice Admiral José Antonio Ortiz Guarneros as secretary of security since August 30, 2018.
The president Mara Lezama, from Quintana Roo, barely took office last September 25 and had appointed the former Federal Police commander Manelich Castilla Craviotto as head of security, but five days later, on September 30, 2022, he changed the decision and opted for a soldier, Rubén Oyarvide Pedrero, Rear Admiral Diplomate of General Staff of the Secretary of the Navy
In San Luis Potosí, Governor Ricardo Gallardo, of the Green Party, a Moreno ally, appointed General Guzmar Ángel González Castillo, who is a teacher in National Security and has 45 years in the Armed Forces, since September 26, 2021.
Since November 1, at the beginning of his administration, the president of Sinaloa, Rubén Rocha Moya, also opted for a secretary of military security, in the figure of Cristóbal Castañeda Camarillo, with experience in intelligence and 23 years in the Secretariat of the National Defense (Sedena).
In Zacatecas, David Monreal appointed on November 19 another soldier as his second secretary of security, the Retired Brigadier General Adolfo Marín Marín, after dismissing Arturo López Bazán, in the midst of a wave of 20 murders and 10 people hanged.
On October 1, upon assuming the presidency of the state of Tamaulipas, Américo Villareal, a Morenista, appointed Brigadier General Sergio Hernando Chávez García, Retired Staff Diploma, as secretary. And, in addition, he will have another military officer as undersecretary: General Alex Melgarejo Torres.
His first option, which had been announced days before, was Óscar Aparicio Avendaño, former commissioner of the State Police in Chihuahua, but he was disavowed by Sedena.
And, in Tlaxcala, something similar happened: on May 2, six months after taking office, Governor Lorena Cuéllar appointed Raúl Ruiz García, Brigadier General, Graduate of the General Staff, and with more than 40 years of service in the Army Mexicano, where he led regiments in the Morelia, Michoacán and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
Half a year that government had an office manager, Erick Sergio Ramírez Manzur. And who was outlined for the position, Alfredo Álvarez Valenzuela, found himself related to the violent operation to evict normalistas from Ayotzinapa, which led to a confrontation that left two students dead.
Neither control nor accountability
Morera, from Common Cause, exposes in an interview that with this panorama, beyond the legal reforms to extend the period of the Sedena in security tasks, what is clear is that militarization is increasingly entrenched in the country.
“Thus, it will be increasingly difficult for the country to be able to escape from military control, but that should not stop civil organizations and citizens from insisting that the military wave stop,” he values.
Saucedo, the specialist in armed forces and public security, also warns that the supposed “parliamentary controls” that the senators of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolution (PRD) put in place so that the Executive reports on the use of the forces armed in security tasks, with indicators and data, as well as the possibility of appearances, will be useless.
“It will be a light oversight because it lacks teeth, there are no penalties or the possibility of calling accounts and sanctioning the Army and Navy, which will only be subject to military jurisdiction, that is, nothing happens. It cannot be known or reviewed or sanctioned when they exceed or do not comply with their tasks. Then, the meetings will be coffee tables”, he laments.
He explained that there is no trust in the data they report either, since the leaks of #GuacamayaLeaks have also shown that the Sedena does not provide true data
“With these data and with the new information that we have practically every day about what happens behind the gates of the regions in the military zones, little by little we realize the type of army we have,” he establishes.