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Mexico's military will participate in public security 1:36
Mexico City (CNN) - The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, ordered the Armed Forces to return to the streets for the next five years, to address the exacerbation of crime in the country.
The decree, signed last week, comes after 2,585 murders were reported in March, the deadliest month since López Obrador took office in December 2018.
The agreement will end on March 27, 2024 and, according to the document, is designed to remain in place until the National Guard can improve its capabilities.
López Obrador created the National Guard shortly after taking office in 2018 as a way to combat the historic levels of violence in Mexico, removing its members from various units of the armed forces. Its mandate was to reduce violence by targeting mainly organized criminal groups.
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But after pressure from the United States, López Obrador deployed thousands of National Guard troops to Mexico's southern and northern borders in an attempt to control the flow of migrants passing through Mexico on their way to the northern country.
Meanwhile, the number of homicides continued to rise, with 22,059 murders recorded in the first nine months of 2019, compared to 21,581 in the same period last year.
His decision to put the armed forces back on the streets is likely to spark controversy in Mexico, as López Obrador won the presidency on a demilitarization platform from the country's long war against the drug cartels.
"The fact is, the National Guard is simply insufficient in response to violence in Mexico," said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center. "That was always going to be the case, but with all the additional tasks for the Guard related to forced migration, there is a desperate labor shortage."
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Wood noted that "homicide numbers in Mexico continue to rise despite the pandemic [covid-19], and the president's approval rating is suffering." But he did not see widespread changes as a result. "This will be a band-aid solution at best, but it may have temporary success in calming certain critical spots in the country."
Previous administrations have also deployed the military to combat drug cartels. The resulting violence has left hundreds of thousands dead in Mexico since 2006.
Armed violence in Mexico