The military plays a central role in Mexico’s war on drugs, and for years the government has given them sweeping authority. Those powers were supposed to be temporary, but a new law will make them permanent.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees this as a good thing.
For more than 10 years, the main mission of Mexico’s armed forces has been to combat powerful drug trafficking organizations. But until now, the country has had no legal framework for allowing the armed forces to carry out the task.
Weeks before Mexico’s new Internal Security Law passed in the legislature, it received public support from the country’s top military leaders.
“The Armed Forces respectfully request, once again, our government move forward with this urgent law, which we insist, obligates government authorities in charge of security to defend the Mexican nation,” Mexico’s Minister of Defense Salvador Cienfuegos said.
The law, which took effect Friday, legalizes deployments of the Mexican Army and Marines to regions where drug-related violence is widespread.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon was the first to send large numbers of troops to fight drug traffickers back in late 2006. Since then, more than 200,000 people have been killed in the nation’s drug war, and more than 30,000 have gone missing.
Drug-related violence has also reached some of Mexico’s most important tourist resorts, including Acapulco, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas.