Lots of folks will soon be southbound, spending the holidays with family and friends in Mexico. There are the usual warnings about traveling through regions where there’s considerable cartel violence. Now the Mexican Senate has taken a big step toward deploying the army on the streets – perhaps indefinitely. Critics are worried that this is the start of a de facto militarization of Mexico.
Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, says Mexico is responding to the large amount of crime and violence associated with the drug cartels that operate there.
“Passing this law is conceding that after 11 years, more than 200,000 people killed in this drug war – we just don’t have an answer yet,” Corchado says.
He says Mexico has used the military to combat cartels in states where cartels were most active. In recent years, cartel activity has expanded to 27 of the nation’s 32 states.
“It’s a situation that’s rapidly deteriorating. Some would say the violence has increased because of the role of the military,” Corchado says.
He says the military has been implicated in killings and human rights abuses.
“The military once had the reputation of being the good guys,” he says. “Many of the experts I’ve talked to on both sides of the border say that has changed dramatically, with deep political corruption.”
The increasing role of the military is already an issue in the campaign that will culminate in elections next summer. The current president’s leftist challenger, Manuel López Obrador, has said he would roll back the current increases in military involvement in law enforcement, to focus on “building a solid, civil community,” Corchado says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.