The creation of a national police force, or gendarmerie, is a priority for Mexico. President Enrique Peña Nieto has mentioned this priority, and it is also one of the points of the multiparty Pact for Mexico. This broad support and the impact an additional military force will have on the country demand transparency in its structure.
However, the government does not seem to share this point of view. So far, it still has not decided whether the police force will be created through healthy debate in Congress or by presidential decree. What is known is how much money is earmarked for this project, and that Army and Marine forces are already in training to be among the first 10,000 troops for the new military body.
What is yet to be known is how this force will operate, its scope and guidelines. For example, the protocol to be followed on human rights, where military forces fighting drug trafficking have had many problems.
The PRI is naturally fond of operating politically without much scrutiny from abroad, and seems to want to continue doing that now. This would be a serious mistake that can cloud Peña Nieto’s strategy in the area of national security from the beginning.
It is possible to question whether creating a force of this type is the right way to tackle drug trafficking, when one of the problems the country faces is that efforts are getting diluted into too many law enforcement agencies instead of one force that consolidates strategy and resources.
That is why it is necessary to have transparency and an open debate to create the gendarmerie. This is a national project of major importance that Mexicans must believe in, and that kind of trust is not earned from the darkness of a presidential decree.