The below is a snippet from the Mexico Q3 Forecast. To download the full document for free, just fill in the form below and it will be sent straight to your email:
The incoming administration will face an ever-growing challenge as it begins navigating uncharted waters. The past two presidential administrations — PAN’s Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) and the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) — were the most violent era in Mexico’s recent history. Last year saw the highest murder rate ever recorded in the past 20 years and this trend has continued with 2018’s expected 32,000 homicides surpassing 2017.
Besides developing a short-term strategy to combat insecurity and the awful murder rate, AMLO’s most important challenge will be to define an integrated response to the country’s disorganised police forces. A combination of factors — conflicting jurisdictions; virtually no professional training or capabilities; a lack of standardised practices; and spiralling complicity with organised crime and cartel activity at all levels — mean that AMLO’s approach to the policing will not bear fruit in the short term. To make matters worse, police budgets — and the far from ideal working conditions — at both federal and state level have not been matched by ever-growing insecurity.
The Ley de Seguridad Interior — which, as discussed in several past issues of Mexico Politics & Security would legally allow the military to patrol the country and replacing all police forces — is currently still awaiting a legal ruling that it is constitutional before it is subsequently enforced. We are confident, however, that this is only a matter of time and will move forward quickly this year with more troops dispatched to over half of Mexico’s 31 states in a matter of months. Similarly, AMLO’s wish to remove the military from the streets will be hampered by the inability to get local, state, and federal police forces to combat crime and insecurity in an integrated way that the army and naval marines have done for at least the past decade.
The dilemma for AMLO’s administration will be almost identical to that for Calderon and Peña Nieto. If he decides to remove the military and marines too quickly there is a risk that the violence will quickly spiral out of control given the state of the current police forces.
Although training is an imperative issue, the problem goes beyond the capabilities of the available police. There are insufficient numbers of police to cover the country when compared to other Latin American countries and Mexico has nowhere near the widely accepted ratio of roughly 225 officers for every 100,000 people with it having only 100 per 100,000. Even if it did so, however, the example of Argentina — the region’s third largest economy after Mexico — does not bode well because it still struggles with security even though it has 500 police per 100,000.
AMLO has proposed the creation of a national police force — which our sources compare to Chile’s solid national Carabineros — which is tasked with national public security and policing and would bring police and military-trained officers together into a National Guard.
This article was taken from the Mexico Q3 Forecast, which was part of our Mexico Politics & Security publication. If you wish to discuss the contents of this article further, or would like to talk to one of our consultants about your work in Mexico, then please contact us.