Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would like to disband the army and put national security in the hands of the new National Guard militarised police force, though he recognised the proposal was unlikely to happen. In an interview with Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the leftist president said he favoured guaranteeing the nation’s security through the National Guard, which he formally inaugurated on Sunday. “If were up to me, I would get rid of the army and turn it into the National Guard, declare that Mexico is a pacifist country that does not need a military and that the defence of the nation, if necessary, would be done by all,” Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. Only a few countries in the world have abolished standing armies, among them the Latin American nations of Costa Rica and Panama. Mexico’s army has traditionally kept on the sidelines of international conflict, but has been deployed to tackle drug gangs since 2007. Lopez Obrador recognised the political challenges to eliminating the military, adding: “I can’t do it because there is resistance. One thing is what is desirable and another thing is what is possible.” The creation of the National Guard, which launched with 70,000 members and which Lopez Obrador intends to grow to 150,000 units across Mexico, has raised concerns about the militarization of law enforcement in Mexico. Lopez Obrador has already tapped the force, which was created by a constitutional change, to patrol the country’s northern and southern borders
“If they are going to open the program up in these numbers and they can’t even manage the influx facility that they have in a humane way, then compounding that is going to be disastrous,” said Holly Cooper, an attorney at the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis who represents detained youth.
Mexico’s president said on Friday (May 31) he would respond with “great prudence” to threats by his US counterpart Donald Trump to impose tariffs on Mexican goods entering the United States, and called on Mexicans to unite to face the challenge. Mr Trump says he will introduce punitive tariffs on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration from Central America to the United States, battering Mexican financial assets and hurting stocks worldwide. It is the biggest foreign policy test to date for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who during his six months in power has consistently sought to deflect Mr Trump’s barbs and avoid embroiling himself in confrontations. Mr Lopez Obrador predicted the Trump administration would rectify the tariff threat and said that Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard would be in Washington working to convince the US government that Mr Trump’s measures were in neither country’s interest, and that Mexico was making progress containing migration. Mr Trump said on Thursday he would ratchet up tariffs unless Mexico stopped people from illegally crossing the border it shares with the United States. The plan would impose a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican imports starting on June 10 and increase monthly, up to 25 per cent on Oct 1. Speaking at his regular morning news conference, Mr Lopez Obrador said he believed Mr Trump would understand that the tariff threat was not the way to resolve the matter, and stressed that Mexicans had united behind his government. “I