Militarization of Mexico under the spotlight after National Guard kills student in Guanajuato

A student has died and another has been injured by shots fired by a National Guard agent, a situation that occurred this Wednesday in Guanajuato, near Irapuato.

In a statement issued by the National Guard, the agent fired his gun because the movements of the boys’ truck generated “confusion and uncertainty.” The killed student, Ángel Rangel, was 19 years old and studying agronomy. His partner was seriously injured. A third student was uninjured.

The University of Guanajuato has published a message on its networks, condemning what happened: “We repudiate the violence that once again puts our university community in mourning and we join the legitimate social demand to live in peace.” The Governor of the State, Diego Sinhue, of the PAN, has also criticized what happened: “I strongly condemn the unfortunate events in which a young student lost his life and another was seriously injured as a result of shots in disproportionate use of force by an element of the National Guard.

The death of the young man calls into question the actions of the Guard, which each year participates in more confrontations. In its 2021 work report, presented in February, the National Guard reported that during that year it recorded “125 events where lethal force with firearms was used,” more than it had accumulated in previous years. According to a count by the Miguel Agustín Pro Human Rights Center based on information obtained via the transparency law, from August 2019 to April 2021, elements of the corporation participated in 63 confrontations with “aggressors.”

The Pro Center also reported that 14 agents died in these clashes and 89 civilians. At least five of those 89 were foreign to any armed group. In its 2021 report, the National Guard avoids giving details of the 125 events recorded last year. Only that in one case “excessive use of force” was determined, which led to an investigation and subsequent report by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

The shooting death of the student Rangel occurs at a delicate moment, with the entire country waiting for missing, dead, and murdered young women. There is no better example of the above than the case of Debanhi Escobar, the 18-year-old girl who was found dead a few days ago in Nuevo León, after abruptly leaving a party and fleeing from the taxi that was supposed to take her home. They are different situations, but with a similar background, with violence always around the corner, wherever it comes from.

In the case of Guanajuato, the ball is now in the court of the National Guard, a corporation born and promoted by the current president, supported by almost 100,000 soldiers and sailors who left the Armed Forces to join the new body. In its statement, the agency has indicated that “the element of the National Guard got out of the vehicle in which he was being transported and unilaterally fired his weapon against the van that was leaving the scene.” The Guanajuato Prosecutor’s Office investigates what happened.

Demanded from the National Palace, the rapid territorial expansion of the National Guard is seen from there as a resounding success. “It is growing, doing its duty, and has the support of 70% of the population,” said the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, less than a year ago. Until 2021, the corporation deployed around 115,000 troops throughout the country. According to the Security Without War collective, in Guanajuato alone, there are already more than 8,000 agents deployed.

Critics of the police use of the Armed Forces during the last two six-year terms, Seguridad Sin Guerra, which integrates prestigious organizations such as México Evalúa or the Centro Pro itself, criticizes that the National Guard or the Army itself continues to exceed the use of force. In a thread posted on Twitter in March, he recalled that the massacres are not things of the past, referring to two events from the immediately preceding administrations, the executions of civilians in Tlatlaya in 2014 and the murder of two students at the Tec de Monterrey in 2010. Also in this, they added, similar events have occurred, case of the alleged execution of at least one civilian after a confrontation in 2020 in Nuevo Laredo.

Regarding the case of Guanajuato, Security Without War has issued a statement in which it again criticizes the actions of the National Guard, a theoretically civil corporation that the presidency pushes hard into the military context. “The militarization of public life in the country has only brought an increase in atrocities under the indolence of those who promised to withdraw the Armed Forces from the streets and have only increased their power.”

By Paul Ferry – Originally published by El Pais

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