The election of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador brought a populist political leader to power under a new political party (MORENA) with a nationalist agenda. One area that López Obrador sought to impact immediately was public safety, due to the insecurity and violence caused by transnational criminal organizations and Mexico’s corrupt public safety institutions. Although he had promised to demilitarize the conflict and take the military out of its public safety role, he instead called for the creation of a new hybrid military/police National Guard that would lead the fight against organized crime.
López Obrador recently put the new National Guard under the authority of the Secretariat of Defense (SEDENA), essentially making it another branch of the military. The National Guard has also been assigned duties such as enforcing Mexico’s southern border and stemming the flow of migrants from Central America; helping build new infrastructure, such as airports and tourist trains; protecting oil pipelines; and distributing vaccines.
At this presentation, nonresident scholar Richard Kilroy Jr. assessed the impact of Mexico’s militarized National Guard on public safety. He also addressed the U.S.-Mexico security relationship and whether security assistance provided to Mexico has in fact contributed to the militarization of the nation’s public safety institutions.
11:00 a.m. — Presentation
11:30 a.m. — Q&A
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Richard J. Kilroy Jr., Ph.D., is a nonresident scholar in the Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico. He is also an associate professor of politics at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, where he teaches courses in the Intelligence and National Security Studies degree program. Kilroy previously taught at East Carolina University, the Virginia Military Institute and National Defense University. He also worked as a defense contractor, teaching courses for the U.S. Air Force’s Air War University and the U.S. Army’s Special Warfare Center and School.
Prior to entering academia, Kilroy completed 23 years of active duty military service in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence and Latin America foreign area officer. He attended the Mexican Army Escuela Superior de Guerra while serving in the Defense Attaché Office in Mexico City. Kilroy also served as a political-military affairs officer in the U.S. Southern Command, Panama and was selected to be a special assistant to Generals Barry McCaffrey and Wes Clark.
Kilroy is editor of “Threats to Homeland Security: An All Hazards Perspective” (J. Wiley and Sons, 2018; 2007), co-editor of “Colonial Disputes and Territorial Legacies in Africa and Latin America” (Northeast Asian Historical Society, 2010) and co-author of “North American Regional Security: A Trilateral Framework?” (Lynne Rienner, 2012). He has also published articles on North American security, homeland security, Latin American defense issues and intelligence studies in numerous academic journals. Kilroy received a B.S. in political science from Santa Clara University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.
Jose Ivan Rodriguez-Sanchez, Ph.D.
Research Scholar, Center for the United States and Mexico