Academics from the Observatory carried out a concise analysis of the role of the armed forces (AF) in this region of the country, its implications and links with also relevant and complex issues such as organized crime, megaprojects, migration, the budget and the violence.
They highlight the contradiction posed by the amount (and variety) of tasks assigned to the armed forces, given their links with the “powers that be, alternative to the state or directly illegal.”
Regarding migration, they expressed that it is one of the most worrying issues, since the deployment of the National Guard (GN) “in migratory situations has had a serious effect on the safeguarding of the Human Rights of the mobile population.” In this regard, the head of SEDENA, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, declared during his visit to Chiapas on August 28th that the Armed Forces had completed “a series of operational activities” on the southern border that had “the main objective of stopping all migration”, so that throughout the state there were “more than 14 thousand members of the Army, Navy and National Guard” carrying out the operations.
The Immigration Policy Unit reported that for the period from June 2019 to December 2020, 193,640 migrants were presented to the immigration authorities. According to the Observatory’s investigation, this suggests that “more than 78 percent of the arrests of migrants in Mexico during this period were carried out by the military or members of the National Guard.”
Regarding the presence of cartels in the region where the Maya Train is implanted, the researchers mentioned that in the states that comprise the train route, two dynamics prevail: the first is that, in Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatan, Campeche and a portion of Quintana Roo, there is a dispute between remnants of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. And the second refers to the fact that, in the areas with the highest tourist activity of Quintana Roo associated with the Riviera Maya, the presence of both the largest and most consistent organizations (the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New generation Cartel (CJNG)) is observed, as is what remains of Los Zetas.
At the same time, they mentioned that the implementation of social programs such as Sembrando Vida has been used by criminal groups to extort money from the population that obtains these benefits.
On the other hand, they highlighted the problem of internal forced displacement generated by violence. In this regard, they pointed out that for 2018 Oaxaca and Chiapas represented 87% of the country’s forced displacement, and of the total estimated for that year, 45% corresponds to indigenous people.
Regarding the composition and location of the armed forces, the academics stated that “by May 2020, the GN was made up of 50% of military police from SEDENA, 10% of naval police from the Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR), 20% of Federal Police personnel, and 17% of new recruits hired by SEDENA and SEMAR, trained in military bases.” In this sense, SEDENA data reveal that in Chiapas there are ten GN barracks located in Villaflores, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Tonala, Huehuetan, Tapachula, Chilon, Las Margaritas, Frontera Comalapa, Bochil and Palenque. Next year there will be six more barracks in Cintalapa de Figueroa, Arriaga, Acacoyagua, Altamirano, Palenque and Solistahuacan.
Finally, the academics indicated that, “drug trafficking has been one of the strong arguments to justify military deployment, but it points to a more permanent establishment with the multiplication of barracks and the fixing of troops, which puts society, the cultures, histories and wealth of the rich lands of the southeast at risk.”
For more information in Spanish:
Militarización del Sureste mexicano (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica, septiembre 2021)
Entre militares y carteles, academia reflexiona incremento de violencia en el sureste (Chiapas Paralelo, 05 octubre de 2021)
For more information from SIPAZ: