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15 January 2019

In a recent article for Lawfare, Strauss Senior Fellow and Mexico Security Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Jake Dizard analyzes the future of Mexican national security under new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or, as he is known by the public and in the media, AMLO. Dizard suggests that although AMLO was elected by a “public that yearns for a dramatic change of direction,” AMLO’s plan for addressing ongoing violence in Mexico only deepens the state’s commitment to the militarized strategy that has proved unsuccessful since 2006.

AMLO’s National Plan for Peace and Security, Dizard reports, prioritizes a military-led security model rooted in the creation of an expansive National Guard. Dizard recounts how militarized security policy efforts failed to resolve violence or protect human rights under former Presidents Calderón and Peña Nieto--failures that prompted AMLO to reject militarization as Mexico's unofficial opposition leader since 2006. With that precedent in mind, AMLO’s National Guard Plan came as an “unwelcome surprise.”

Dizard contends that the National Guard plan is questionable for a number of reasons: it threatens human rights, undermines civilian law enforcement, and could sharpen civil-military tensions. Dizard concedes that there are political advantages to allowing the military to take the lead and, given the dire circumstances of Mexico’s security crisis, AMLO’s attention to security is welcome. However, as Dizard plainly states: “Militarization has been counterproductive in terms of violence, human rights, and civilian institution building. Doubling down on a strategy that is neither new nor promising signals a disappointing start to the AMLO presidency.”

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