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Mexico: Lower House of Congress Approves Reform to Create a National Guard

(Jan. 28, 2019) In a plenary session held on January 16, 2019, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies approved a constitutional amendment for the creation of a National Guard. The amendment was approved after nine hours of debate, with 348 votes in favor, 108 votes against, and 10 abstentions. (David Vicenteño y Héctor Figueroa, Deputies Approve Creation of National Guard, EXCELSIOR (Jan. 17, 2019) (in Spanish).)

The National Guard will be formed from the ranks of current members of the military, naval, and federal police. In addition, a general call has been issued for young civilians to enroll. (Id.)

The constitutional amendment establishes that the National Guard will be under the civilian command through the Secretariat of Public Safety and Citizen Protection, and also overseen by a board composed of the chiefs of staff of the security, national defense, and naval branches of the military. (Id.)

The constitutional reform was proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to combat criminal violence but criticized by human rights defenders. Congressmen from the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) and the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) opposed the amendment because they believe that the National Guard will militarize the country and violate international treaties. They also called for President López Obrador to fulfill his promise to withdraw the army from the fight against drugs.

The reform must still be approved by two thirds of the Senate and by congressional representatives from half of the thirty-two states that make up Mexico, most of whom are from the ruling Morena party. (Kelly Cabana, Mexico Approves Reform to Create Controversial National Guard, RCN RADIO (Jan. 17, 2019) (in Spanish).)