Mexican military not meant to serve in drug cartel crackdown, top general says

12/9/2016 The Guardian

General-CienfuegosA decade after Mexico sent its soldiers into the streets to combat drug cartels, the country’s top general has said troops should head back to their barracks, arguing their role is ill-defined and counterproductive.

“Do you want us [back] in our barracks? Let’s do it. I would be the first to raise both hands so that we do our constitutional duties,” Mexican defence secretary Gen Salvador Cienfuegos said to the press. “We didn’t ask to be there [in the streets]. We don’t take any pleasure in it. None of us …. were trained to pursue criminals.”

The general’s rare and candid comments on Thursday came just days before the 10th anniversary of then-president Felipe Calderón’s decision to deploy the armed forces against drug cartels and organized crime.

The conflict, launched 11 December 2006, has cost almost 200,000 lives and left an estimated 28,000 missing. Soldiers have regularly been accused of human rights violations in the course of the crackdown, which has exposed shortcomings in Mexican policing and failed to establish order in many of the troubled corners of the country.

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