Mexican President Lopez Obrador

Mexico’s president has begun exploring plans to sidestep congress to ban formal control of the National Guard to the army.

This is a move that could extend the military’s control over policing in a country with high levels of violence.

That has raised concerns because President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won approval for creating the force in 2019 pledging in the constitution that it would be under nominal civilian control and that the army would be off the streets by 2024.

The President wants to keep soldiers involved in policing and remove civilian control over the National Guard, whose officers and commanders are mostly soldiers, with military training and pay grades.  But the president no longer has the votes in congress to amend the constitution and has suggested he may try to do it as a regulatory change with a simple majority in congress or by an executive order and see if the courts will uphold that.

President Lopez Obrador warned on Friday against politicizing the issue, saying the military is needed to fight Mexico’s violent drug cartels.  But then, he immediately politicized it himself.

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