AMLO’s Government, the One That Has Militarized Mexico the Most


In Mexico, the Armed Forces (Sedena, Semar, National Guard) are receiving an increasing budget and civilian functions to carry out tasks for which they are not authorized; their power is expanded with agreements and decrees, according to the National Inventory of Militarization.

The militarization of Mexico began at least three administrations ago, however, it has accelerated during the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with agreements and decrees to expand military power, outside of legislative forums and public debate, according to the National Inventory of Militarization, a database that documents the increase in military presence in the country, conducted by the Drug Policy Program (PPD), Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD), and Intersecta.

The document indicates that militarization does not only occur with public security. In fact, at the federal level, 83% of the agreements between the armed forces and other federal institutions are for civilian functions not related to public security, such as environmental protection, social policy, health, and public works.

Through a complex network of agreements, decrees, and reforms—both constitutional and legislative—multiple functions and civilian budgets are transferred to carry out tasks for which they are not authorized, it states.

This inventory is a database that seeks to document militarization in Mexico and contribute to identifying and understanding the legal mechanisms through which it occurs, the public actors involved in these processes, and the arguments used to justify their actions.

The Inventory records four mechanisms that enable this: constitutional reforms, federal legislative reforms, presidential agreements and decrees; and specific agreements and accords signed between the armed forces and various civilian institutions.

Findings of the National Inventory of Militarization

According to the Inventory’s database, from 2006 to 2023, there were 87 constitutional and legislative reform initiatives presented in Congress to transfer functions or civilian budgets to one of the Armed Forces. 77% were presented between September 2018 and August 2023, that is, during the last two legislatures coinciding with López Obrador’s term.

Morena is the political party that has presented the most initiatives to increase the powers of the armed forces, being responsible for 46% of the initiatives presented.

It also highlights that, in total, 19 agreements were documented to create state-owned companies under the control of the Armed Forces, allowing them to participate in the government’s priority projects, such as the Maya Train.

Another mechanism that enables the armed forces to receive budget and civilian functions are the agreements and accords signed between military institutions and civilian institutions of the three levels of government.

The Inventory records that between 2007 and 2022 there were 258 agreements that transferred functions or civilian budgets to the armed forces: 222 agreements that transferred civilian functions with their respective budgets, 8 agreements with civilian functions and without a budget, and finally, 28 agreements that transferred civilian budgets for military functions. In these cases, for example, there are federal entities that pay the armed forces to build military barracks or other military infrastructure.

Of the 250 agreements in which a civilian budget was transferred to the armed forces, only in half of these agreements and accords was it possible to determine how much civilian money was transferred to the armed forces.

The organizations point out that while this transfer of functions and budgets has been a trans-administration phenomenon, since 2010 there has been a constant increase in the agreements made between civilian authorities and military institutions. According to the analyzed data, this increase reached its peak in 2019, the year in which 43 agreements were registered.

Semarnat, Pemex, and SAT are the federal institutions with which the Armed Forces have signed the most agreements.

For their part, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Mexico City are the federal entities with which the Armed Forces have signed the most agreements.

“If we analyze the agreements and accords signed between federal institutions and the armed forces, 21 were signed during Calderón’s term and 55 during Peña Nieto’s, while in the four years studied of López Obrador’s term, 51 were signed.”

During the administration of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), 43% of the federal agreements transferred some civilian function not related to public security to the military institutions; the percentage rose to 69% with Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), and, in the four years of López Obrador, it rose to 83%.

The Agreements and Accords Have Problems of Form and Substance

The Inventory reveals that the agreements and accords do not always contain the specific amount of transfers to military institutions. They also present deficiencies in terms of their validity, which is not always clear, and they often show poor legal justification.

“These are mechanisms that facilitate opacity and hinder accountability. To know much of the transfers to military institutions carried out with these mechanisms, it is necessary to make requests for access to information to the authorities that were part of the agreement or accord.” This, as the Inventory itself reveals, rarely results in effective access to information.

The Problem of Militarization

According to the Inventory, years of evidence show that in public security tasks, the armed forces have not only failed to contain violence but have contributed to its exacerbation, both directly and indirectly.

Regarding the public administration functions they now perform, the evidence that is beginning to accumulate—given the novelty of many of the functions—shows that using the armed forces in public administration tasks entails significant risks in terms of corruption and human rights abuses, particularly labor rights.

Furthermore, it points out that militarization is an obstacle to democratic development and the protection of human rights.

“Beyond what should be the functions of the armed forces, today they are not like any other civilian institution. They are institutions designed for war, which have a differentiated regime. And this has not been modified despite the fact that the functions they perform are increasingly distant from those related to war. In this sense, giving them more functions implies that more state functions are subject to this special regime. More concretely: the more functions we give to the armed forces, the more functions are exempted from the regime of rights, justice, transparency, accountability, and democracy,” it warns.

Source: Animal Politico