By: Raúl Romero
The presidential initiative to incorporate the National Guard into the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena, its Spanish acronym) has generated an intense debate. Given the lack of a project that convinces big social sectors, the alliance of right-wing politicians and business owners has sought to capitalize on the discussion, to utilize it to beat up on the current governing bloc and to position themselves as the alternative. However, in the past we found evidence of how these groups promoted the country’s militarization process.
In the 1970s, as part of Operation Condor, the United States conducted a test in Mexico of “collaboration” between armies to combat the region’s new enemy, “drug trafficking.” Behind the euphemisms, this operation meant an escalation of the counterinsurgency war, as well as a renewed US 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 acts of barbarism against popular organizations and against many of the peoples they encountered in their path.
The participation of the Mexican Army in anti-drug trafficking tasks did not mean a reduction of the business, to the contrary, drug trafficking became a flourishing business that found other commercial branches, which gave the form to the organized crime corporations that operate today. High-ranking military men became links between military forces and organized crime, like the case of General Acosta Chaparro, who participated in the counterinsurgency in the state of Guerrero, and who would later be found to have ties to organized crime.
It’s important to frame the militarized security model in the context of the deployment of the neoliberal model in the region, a strategy that jointly with the trade agreements and the security alliances, like the Free Trade Agreement or The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, they have been translated into policies of “regional integration” and “hemispheric security. “
With this logic, during the presidency pf Ernesto Zedillo the Federal Preventive Police were created, a militarized police that had as its first intervention the taking of the UNAM’s installations, in order to end the strike in defense of the public and free character of the university that supported the General Strike Council.
Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto continued and strengthened militarized security using it also for the repression of popular movements. The six-year term of Calderón stands out for the massive open participation in joint operations of the Army with local, state and federal police and, especially, for their actions in favor of certain organized crime groups, a strategy that provoked the expansion and brutality of the war.
Ratification of the militarized security strategy by the current government mens continuing on the path walked, and turning our backs on a historic social demand to build alternatives for public, citizen and community security; a strategy distanced from the mandates of the United States and its “Americanization” of security. Nor have members of the military been brought to justice for crimes of the past and present, or for corruption, so the impunity pact remains intact. It’s the same structure and, in many cases, even the same actors.
Now, the old “mafia in power” says it is opposed to the militarization, when in reality they pointed the way and accentuated the dependency. Something similar happens with the extractive, energy and infrastructure projects that the current administration constructs, many of which were designed by previous administrations and agreed to in the context of regional commercial integration. Although the “opposition” today dresses up as environmentalist and antimilitarist, nobody believes them, we know very well that its color is that of money.
But the most serious problem is not that the right utilizes these demands, but that the current administration resumes those strategies. This certainly does not mean that nothing has changed; but inn terms of militarization, among others, there is not only continuity, but in addition, the strategy is deepened by handing over the construction and administration of different megaprojects to the military, or exalting military values such as the Army’s supposed lack of corruptibility.
In Wikileaks cable 06MEXICO595, it was revealed that since 2006 -before Calderon”s war-, the now President López Obrador had already announced to the Unitedb States government that he would resort to the military for security strategy in Mexico, giving them “more power and authority” in anti-drug operations, making constitutional amendments.
The crisis of violence that Mexico experiences is in part a result of the neoliberal model that, among mother things, has accompanied the militarization of security and of societies. That’s why the battle over de-militarization is fundamental if it is truly against that model and if it desires to trace a different route.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Sunday, September 11, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/09/11/opinion/012apol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee