Since 2018, elements of the Sedena and Marina assumed 13 extra jobs, such as building works and customs control.
MEXICO CITY (El Universal) – Since Andrés Manuel López Obrador became president in December 2018, the Armed Forces have taken on 13 additional public security tasks in at least four areas construction work, police training, support for social programs, and the health emergency caused by Covid-19.
Although López Obrador promised that they would return to their barracks during his election campaign, the leftist leader decided to rely on the Army and Navy to carry out several of his flagship projects, some of which are considered strategic.
The most recent work ordered by the Armed Forces is the control of ports and customs. Before that, they were already responsible for building the Felipe Angeles International Airport in St. Lucia; the 2,700 branches of the Banco del Bienestar; two sections of the Tren Maya; the remodeling of 32 hospitals abandoned in past six years, in the framework of the health emergency by Covid-19, and also the care of this disease.
Similarly, they were instructed to support the fight against the theft of fuel from Pemex; custody of pipes; implementation of the surveillance plan on the northern and southern borders to stop migration to the United States; construction of barracks for the National Guard; support for the Sembrando Vida and Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro programs; distribution of fertilizers, as well as vigilance in the delivery of resources from social programs.
According to official information, the Armed Forces have deployed 61,795 elements to fulfill these specific tasks ordered by the Federal Executive, not counting the troops assigned to peace-building operations.
This figure is higher than the 54,980 troops deployed for security tasks in the last year of the government of former President Enrique Peña Nieto. The 52,807 used in the federal administration of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
In the construction of the international airport in Santa Lucia, 925 military engineers and specialists are coordinating more than 30,000 civilian workers working on various fronts of the project, which is expected to be completed in March 2022.
Currently, 47,864 troops are supporting tasks related to the health emergency; some are guarding the hospitals.
On the other hand, 47,864 elements of the Army and Navy are working on the Covid-19; 8,850 on the North and South border migration plan; 2,966 on the protection of the Pemex pipeline network; 879 on maritime and port security; 205 on Sembrando Vida; 69 on the Welfare Bank; and 37 on the National Guard facilities.
The increase in the Army and Navy activities in the country’s public life has also been reflected in an increase in their resources. According to the Federal Expenditure Budget 2020, the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) has 94 billion pesos to operate this year. In 2018, the last stretch of the government of Enrique Pena Nieto had 81,21 billion pesos.
The Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) in 2020 has 33 billion pesos, while the government of Peña Nieto had 31 billion pesos in the last year.
Specialists have warned of the implications of using the Army and Navy for tasks beyond national security. The federal government should not delegate more responsibilities to the Armed Forces since they were not trained to be employed in public safety, port surveillance, or social development.
The specialists emphasized that prolonging the stay of the military in the streets prevents progress in the consolidation of civil institutions. Besides, the image and acceptance of the Navy and the Army are at stake.
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