Mexico’s President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says "We won’t stop using the army and the marines in public security issues," insisting the Federal Police aren’t sufficiently prepared to quell the country’s rising violence.
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The remarks sparked controversy, especially among voters who supported AMLO during his campaign. Lopez Obrador had promised a different approach in the fight against drug cartels and other forms of organized crime, often repeating the mantra: "You can’t fight fire with fire."
"Being realistic, the Federal Police have not been consolidated… I do need to inform with objectivity, we can’t deal with the current insecurity and violence problem without using the army and the marines," AMLO said on Friday.
In December 2016, Lopez Obrador demanded then President Enrique Peña Nieto send the military back to their barracks because the surge in violence proved the security strategy had been a failure: "You can’t solve anything using the army, the marines, the police, with jails and firm hand threats, with more severe laws."
But since winning the elections, AMLO has changed his stance dramatically: "It would be very irresponsible on my part to tell the soldiers and marines to go back to the barracks," he said on Friday.
AMLO said the military will remain on the streets until new police reforms are implemented and a "national guard" is developed to safeguard peace in Mexico.
AMLO also vowed to personally take charge of security issues, heading meetings with security corporations and authorities every day at 6 a.m. to address the most recent developments.
"I can promise we will face the problem of insecurity and violence and that we will have good results," AMLO said. "The strategy will change, we won’t neglect the origin of these problems."
The president-elect has already met with Secretary of National Defense Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and the head of the marines, Vidal Francisco Soberon, to discuss their successors, whose identities are to be revealed sometime in October.
Lopez Obrador also announced he is dividing the nation into 264 sectors for social development, coordinating them with the federal government for security issues.
Since former President Felipe Calderon inaugurated Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ in 2006 and sent the military onto the streets, violent deaths and human rights violations have dramatically increased, hand-in-hand with impunity in the military judicial system.
In the 11 years that followed, the National Commission on Human Rights received 10,751 complaints against the armed forces and issued 146 recommendations.