Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto’s mass deployment of federal forces to Michoacan is reminiscent of his predecessor Felipe Calderon’s militarized security strategy in the troubled state.
Mexico’s central government is sending 5,000 federal agents (made up of federal police, army and marine units) to the southwest state of Michoacan, reported El Universal. The surge builds on the 3,000 agents already patrolling the state.
Michoacan Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo said an evaluation is being conducted to determine the most at-risk areas where the arriving forces will be deployed. Of particular concern are Michoacan’s borders with neighboring Jalisco, Guanajuato, Guerrero and the State of Mexico, Conjeo added.
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The federal agents are being deployed alongside an expected ramp up in Peña Nieto’s “Mando Unico,” or Singe Command initiative. The program aims to replace local police agencies thought to be infiltrated by organized crime with a single police force commanded at the state level.
According to El Universal, 76 Michoacan municipalities have so far signed up for Mando Unico. With their local police forces disbanded, security for these municipalities has been taken over by the 3,000 federal agents already present in Michoacan.
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Upon taking office in 2012, Peña Nieto said his administration’s security strategy would place a greater emphasis on crime prevention and violence reduction. However, Peña Nieto’s latest deployment of federal forces echoes similar actions taken by Calderon, whose reliance on the military to battle fearsome drug cartels became an integral part of Mexico’s so-called “War on Drugs.”
One of Calderon’s first acts after becoming president was to send 6,500 troops to restore order in his home state of Michoacan. The troops were supposed to be a temporary measure, but six years later the administration sent another 4,000 to the state.
The 5,000 federal agents Peña Nieto is deploying to Michoacan — on top of the 3,000 already there — are likely to stay for the long-term as well. As more municipal police forces are dissolved under Mando Unico, the state will become even more dependent on federal security forces.
However, there is reason to doubt that this latest surge will lead to better results than previous ones. Despite the dismantling of criminal organization the Knights Templar, violence in Michoacan remains stubbornly high, and self-defense groups continue to engage in bloody shootouts.