The National Guard turns one year in June 2020 (Photo: Courtesy Presidency)

One year after its foundation, the National Guard has remained as a military corporation that operates as an extension of the Armed Forces, far from the civil institution that promised the constitutional reform that gave rise to it.

This, according to the National Guard Observatory, which also ensured that the corporation will not be able to solve the public security problems that plague the country.

In its report « National Guard: one year after it was put into operation », the observatory summarizes the most relevant aspects of the creation and operation of this corporation. Stresses, for example, that the Guard depends mainly on the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) and the Secretary of the Navy (Semar), both in the training and recruitment of elements, as in the allocation of budget and construction of own infrastructure.

The National Guard Observatory considered the corporation to be an extension of the Armed Forces (Photo: Courtesy Presidency)

Although it began operations in June 2019, the National Guard originated in March of that year, when the constitutional reform that founded it was published. In this regard, the observatory highlights the contradiction with which it originated: it supposes to have a civil character, but its conformation and structure were homologated to the Armed Forces.

In fact, the institution began operations by an active brigadier general and was made up mostly of elements from the Military and Naval Police, with guidelines typical of a military corps. In addition, the founding of the National Guard led to the approval of a extraordinary period five years (2019-2024) in which the President of the Republic has the power to dispose of the Armed Forces in public security tasks.

The National Guard operates without subordination to civilian command, without external oversight and without extraordinary character, as originally stated. In reality, the corporation’s own constitution contradicted the provisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on military participation in public security tasks, they detailed.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised in his last two electoral campaigns to withdraw the Armed Forces from public security tasks (Photo: Courtesy Presidency)

The National Guard force emerges and is maintained thanks to the transfer of elements of the Sedena, the Semar, the Military and Naval police, and the defunct Federal Police. The least amount of elements comes from this last body (18,000 as of June 2020).

In March 2020, Sedena and Semar recruited 20,235 soldiers and 6,637 sailors, respectively, to transfer them to the Guard. Instead, from July to December 2019, only eight people discharged the corporation.

There are currently 12 recruitment centers, all installed on military bases. In addition, the transferred military retain their place and benefits in the Armed Forces, so there is no clear delimitation between institutions. In practice the roles and responsibilities of the institutions are added.

The National Guard depends on the secretariats of the National Defense and the Navy to train its members, receive a budget and build infrastructure (Photo: Presidency of Mexico)

In its report, the observatory stressed that there is no public criterion that explains the deployment of the Guard in the federal entities. For example, despite the fact that the states with the highest homicide rates are Colima, Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato and Morelos, the National Guard has a greater presence in Quintana Roo, Colima, Zacatecas, Oaxaca and Guerrero.

On the other hand, the construction of barracks for the Guard has been based on the donation of land to the Sedena by state governments. To date, 29 barracks have been built in Jalisco, 22 in Michoacán and 18 in Guanajuato. It is planned to build 91 more barracks, in addition to the existing infrastructure of the Armed Forces and Federal Police.

During 2019, the National Guard operated with resources from the Federal Police, Secretary of National Defense and Secretary of the Navy, without there being any certainty about the amounts. In 2020 there was a labeled budget for the new corporation: a total of 29,000 million pesos.

The National Guard has functions such as carrying out surveillance actions, collaborating in the containment of migrants, receiving complaints, making arrests and assurances, providing care to victims. (Photo: Twitter / GN_MEXICO_)

On two occasions, Andrés Manuel López Obrador incorporated as a promise in the electoral campaign the withdrawal of the Armed Forces from public security functions (both in 2018 and 2012). In this sense, once the presidency of the republic was assumed, it determined the creation of the National Guard because, according to its project, this institution would make its promise come true.

To this end, the dissolution of the Federal Police, which had 37,000 elements that were, in part, integrated into the new corporation.

Shortly after the formation of the National Guard, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) presented, in May 2019, four unconstitutional actions related to the National Guard Law and its regulations related to the use of force, the national arrest registry and the national public security system.

In 2020, the National Guard received a labeled budget for a total of 29 billion pesos (Photo: Courtesy Presidency)

In subsequent amendments to the law, more powers were conferred on the National Guard such as carrying out surveillance actions, collaborate in the containment of migrants, receive complaints, make arrests, assurances, and provide care to victims.

The observatory concludes, as part of its report, that the Armed Forces (including the National Guard) The following cannot solve the country’s public security problems: « Addressing serious security problems does not require military deployments, but rather police officers with investigative powers and capabilities, with a clear definition of citizen involvement, and supported by a true prevention policy. »

It also details that the functions of the Guard are added to the powers of the military corporations, which are have increased significantly during the current government. The decree creating the National Guard confirms an expansion of the functions and operations of the Armed Forces « like never before in the modern history of the country, » says the organization.

The National Guard Observatory was also founded in June 2019, made up of organizations, academics, experts, groups and opinion leaders, with the aim of documenting and disseminating the procedure of the institution.

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