Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Mexico's Unknown National Guard to Address Immigration

A lot is being made of the Mexican government's decision to send 6,000 National Guard to the Guatemalan border. From The Washington Post:

U.S. officials say they were particularly impressed with Mexico’s pledge to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops to its border region with Guatemala. Mexico described its plan to U.S. officials as “the first time in recent history that Mexico has decided to take operational control of its southern border as a priority,” according to Mexican government documents.
This National Guard, however, is brand new and no one--troops included, I imagine--knows what it is supposed to do. The original idea was to fight crime, a force separate from police and army. The force was only just approved on February 28.

AMLO isn't even clear on it. From Patrick Corcoran a few months ago:
López Obrador’s own words also do little to clarify the role of the new force. He recently compared the National Guard to the blue-helmeted peacekeepers of the UN. Similarly, in a November interview shortly after the new agency was announced, he said that the National Guard was meant to “guarantee peace,” though he did not describe how it would do so. In December, amid growing criticism, he sounded similar notes: “We are proposing…the National Guard because we want to guarantee peace and tranquility, that there be no violence.”
Plus, only last month the government was still trying to woo people to join it. Hey, there are benefits! You get 15 days of vacation!
El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador llamó a los jóvenes a incorporarse a la Guardia Nacional, pues se requiere reclutar a 50 mil elementos entre 2019 y 2021. 
Aseguró que quienes se integren el cuerpo armado tendrán un empleo remunerado, el cual se puede convertir en una forma de vida con mucha satisfacción y orgullo.  
That does not sound to me like a force ready to do anything remotely as complicated as controlling the Guatemalan border. Its stated purpose is to fight organized crime, not migrants. Troops with zero border training will suddenly be charged with drastically slowing the flow of Central American migrants. I can't possibly see how that could happen.

Maybe this is just a way for the Mexican government to placate Trump for the time being. Sending lots of troops is exactly the sort of thing he likes, and it makes for good headlines.


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