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A coup in Mexico?

1 December 2017

While we knew this was coming, after years of “regularizing” the site of soldiers in the streets (at least in some places, like Mazatlan, where I lived for several years) and the constant propaganda turned out to discredit all opposition, from dissident unions to blaming all social unrest on “drug cartels” or other organized crime groups (as opposed to, say, desperate people looking for a way to survive), in a way, I’m surprised this has only come up now.  With the presidential elections only seven months out… and a growing assumption that the next president will be from the dissident left… unless they expect the military to necessarily side with the old establishment and not whomever controls Los Pinos by this time next year, either the establishment hopes to push this through now in order to prevent the left from assuming power, or they’re about to hand over to the very people the mainstream parties claim is a “danger to Mexico” a tool to quash any dissent from the left’s agenda.

John Ackerman in this week’s Proceso (my translation)

MEXICO CITY (Process) .- The intrusion of military forces into the political and social life of the country has reached intolerable extremes that put at risk both institutional democracy and national sovereignty. Today we witnessed the equivalent of a surreptitious and silent coup d’état. If society does not stop the rampant militarization, Los Pinos could soon be occupied by a general.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has presented in the Chamber of Deputies an initiative for a new Internal Security Law, which aims to normalize the unconstitutional participation of the Armed Forces in public security and internal social control.

The approval of this project would imply a radical transformation of the role of the military in national affairs. Normally, soldiers can only participate in matters related to “national security”. Article 129 of the Constitution is absolutely clear: “In times of peace, no military authority can exercise more functions than those that have an direct connection with military discipline.”

However, the proposal submitted by Deputy César Camacho Quiroz, drawn up to comply with those of Enrique Peña Nieto and the Secretary of National Defense, Salvador Cienfuegos, would enable the military to be directly involved in matters of “internal security”. And this concept is defined in the most abstract and general way: as any issue that “endangers stability, security or public peace”.

With the new law, the military will no longer be exclusively limited to defending the homeland and providing support to civil authorities in cases of emergency, but would become permanently responsible for the internal “order” and, therefore, a multi-faceted and autonomous political force capable of imposing their own will at almost any moment. That is, the military persecution of the political opposition and social movements throughout the country would be formally authorized.

Ever since Felipe Calderón sent massive numbers of soldiers massively into the streets in 2006, supposedly to combat drug trafficking, the federal government has said that militarization of public security was necessary as a strictly temporary measure, while purging and professionalizing municipal, state and federal police forces.

Today, 10 years later, we see that Calderón lied from the first. The police were never professionalized and the parties in the “Pact for Mexico” have simply decided to replace the police with the military.

A few months ago, PRIANRD* reformed both the Code of Military Justice and the Military Code of Criminal Procedures, in order to allow public ministries (criminal investigators) and military courts to indiscriminately intervene in civil matters, with searches of private homes, offices and government buildings, as well as conducting direct espionage on personal communications.

With the Internal Security Law, this would consolidate and expand the scope of the law. The military would be able to completely displace the public prosecutor in the investigation of crimes committed by civilians. It would also open the door for a system of generalized political-military espionage, allowing soldiers to use any means of information gathering they chose.

Even more worrying is that this new law seeks to reverse procedures set forth in Article 29 of the Constitution related to a declaration that suspends basic civil rights in cases of “serious disturbance of the public peace”. That constitutional procedure obliges the president to receive authorization from the Congress of the Union to issue said declaration and requires that the suspension be “for a limited time” specified in the declaration.

In contrast, the new law would allow the president to unilaterally declare, and for an indefinite time such a state of exception. That is to say, the military presence on our streets would be eternalized, with all that this implies regarding the systematic violation of human rights and the freedoms of transit, expression and assembly.

The most serious danger, however, is the damage that this new law would have on our national sovereignty. It is no secret that the Mexican armed forces today not only follow the orders of the Mexican authorities, but also obey the mandates of Washington. It was the government of Vicente Fox who accommodated the Mexican militia within the framework of the North Command of the United States (Northcom) in 2002. And a growing percentage of generals, commanders and Mexican military cadets receive an mportant part of their training in U.S.

The Secretary of the Navy, Vidal Soberón, was recently named commander of the Legion of Merit of the United States government and has been in constant communication with the military high command of that country. A few months ago Soberón personally handed Northcom’s chief, William Gortney, Mexico’s Medal of Naval Distinction and Military Merit First Class.

In other words, if PRIANRD is able to get approval for their new Internal Security Law, the Mexican people will not only be subject to the constant meddling of the military forces in our lives, but our information and our freedoms would also be placed under the direct control of Donald Trump.

Instead of augmenting the intrusion of a fascist in our internal affairs, today is a good time to recover our long tradition of national dignity and Latin American solidarity. We have to turn our eyes towards the south.

*The majority parties making up the so-called “Pact for Mexico”: PRI, PAN, and PRD. Although in foreign publications the three parties are respectively labeled “Centerist”, “Right of Center” and “Left of Center”, their ideological differences were smoothed over in suppport of a neo-liberal economic policy, and a consensus domestic agenda.

One Comment leave one →
  1. roberb7 permalink
    2 December 2017 6:46 pm

    Some random thoughts on this:
    Mexico is already heavily militarized, with the checkpoints and patrols.
    The new Gendarmerie seems to have had no effect whatsoever on the crime rate.
    The pickup trucks that go down the streets with police or soldiers with automatic weapons also seem to have had no effect whatsoever. The Criminal just do their business on side streets and alleys. What does have an effect is a cop walking a beat. There’s one of those in my neighbourhood, and it’s a safe neighbourhood.

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