Forging New Security Institutions: Mexico’s National Guard and the Challenges of Identity and New Nationalisms
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The election of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico in 2018 brought a populist political leader to power under a new political party (MORENA) with a nationalist agenda. One area that AMLO sought to impact immediately was public safety, due to the nation’s insecurity and violence spawned by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and corrupt public safety institutions. In his campaign, AMLO promised to demilitarize the conflict and take the military out of its public safety role. Yet in his first six months in office, AMLO rolled out a new National Plan for Peace and Security that called for the formation of a new hybrid military/police National Guard to lead the fight against organized crime. More recently, however, the new National Guard has been assigned duties along Mexico’s northern and southern borders to help stem the flow of migrants from Central America. Could Mexico’s National Guard enhance border security and cross-border security cooperation, or is it likely to result in additional problems amid new nationalisms on both sides of the border, including human rights violations against vulnerable migrants?
This paper examines Mexico’s creation of a new security institution along the lines of a Stability Police Force (SPF) in the midst of ongoing public safety and health crises. These crises include: powerful drug cartels; corrupt police forces; mass migration; human rights violations; COVID-19; and a belligerent neighbor in the Donald Trump administration, which insisted that Mexico pay to build a border wall to contain illegal immigration. The methodology employs a SWOT analysis to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relating to Mexico’s National Guard as it seeks to create its own identity and mission area while facing the rising challenge of new nationalisms in Mexico and the United States at the midpoint of AMLO’s sexenio (six-year term).
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