President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), slated to take office on December 1, announced on November 14 the national security strategy he will adopt during his administration's six-year term. The strategy has eight pillars: fight against corruption, social welfare, protection of human rights, ethics, fight against drugs, national reconciliation, prison reform, and public security. The latter pillar includes the creation of a National Guard (Guardia Nacional) which would be integrated by civilians and elements of Federal Police, Army, and the Navy. The establishment of a federal national guard to carry out law enforcement activities nationwide would reportedly require a constitutional reform. Opposition politicians from the PAN and PRI parties criticized the initiative, describing it as populist and improvised, further disregarding proposals to grant amnesty to criminals. In turn, human right organizations have published statements raising concerns over the prospected National Guard, claiming that such force would deepen the militarization of public security, purportedly leading to an uptick in human right abuses. A document detailing AMLO’s proposal can be found here (in Spanish).
Being a federal initiative, the establishment of a national guard would likely diminish the role of decentralized law enforcement, such as municipal and state police forces. The idea of a cross-functional force combating organized crime under a unified command and control structure aligns with recommendations from security experts. Although the National Guard would allegedly be placed under civilian oversight, it would nonetheless retain the discipline and hierarchical structure of the military. Despite AMLO’s influence, constitutional restraints and political opposition will likely difficult the prospect of promptly materializing the new security agenda. Furthermore, the creation of a National Guard with federal jurisdiction could potentially lead to tensions at different levels of government and security services. Under the current security strategy, federal troops often countermand local law enforcement bodies when the latter are suspected of being infiltrated by organized crime. However, while these actions require the acquiescence of local authorities, the National Guard would theoretically oversee and command local bodies permanently.