Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador published a decree Monday authorizing the armed forces to participate in civilian law enforcement for four more years until March 2024.

“The participation of the armed forces in public safety should be under extraordinary conditions and should be regulated, reviewed, subordinated and complementary” to civilian authorities, according to the decree.

This is amidst criticism that Mexican soldiers and marines have been implicated in serious rights abuses, and activists have pressed Mexico to train and equip enough civilian police to take over from the military, who were sent out to fight drug violence in 2006, said a CBS report.

In 2019, Mexico created a quasi-military National Guard, that allowed the president to use the armed forces in “extraordinary” circumstances, as long as they are subordinate to and supervised by civilian authorities.

However, Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope believed that this could create a perverse incentive for the army to stop sending soldiers to join the National Guard.

“This decree doesn’t make any attempt to justify what is ‘extraordinary,'” said Hope.

He added that the decree is vague to begin with.

The decree also states “the duties which the armed forces carry out in the context of this decree, will be under the supervision and control of the internal affairs office of the corresponding department.”

Hope said “it says they should be supervised, reviewed and subordinated, but by who? By themselves. The Defense Department regulates itself.”

In 2006, Former president Felipe Calderón sent the army into the streets to fight drug cartels, but since then the violence has only grown, said the report.

Mexico saw 3,078 homicides in March, up 0.5% from the 2,948 in March 2019.


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