ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
Mexican soldiers patrol along Sor Juana Avenue in Nezahualcoyotl, State of Mexico, Mexico on September 20, 2012.
One of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s major promises in last year’s election was that he would create a national paramilitary police force to fight the country’s high rate of violence. The national security commissioner has said the goal is to put 10,000 of these military-trained, but civilian controlled officers, on the streets by the end of the year, and expand to 40,000 by 2018.
But some local civic groups are concerned about the wisdom of such a strategy, and want the President to let Congress debate creating the paramilitary force. Former president Felipe Calderon implemented a system that uses actual military forces to fight local crime, which resulted in 70,000 deaths in a six-year period, and continues to draw criticism for major human right violations.
How will Peña Nieto’s strategy differ from his predecessor, and why should we believe that it will cut down on death and corruption?
Shannon O’Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations