Mexico City, Jan 12 (EFE).- The deployment of more than 6,000 members of the National Guard (GN), which is under the authority of the army, in the Mexico City metro sparked controversy on Thursday with opposition civil and political organizations accusing the government of militarizing the transportation system.
“The announcement that the militarized National Guard will be deployed in the CDMX metro is concerning since it’s evident that this corporation is reproducing the military (behavior) of opacity and excessive use of force,” said the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh).
The controversy erupted during the morning press conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at which Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum reported that the GN would be providing support after the accident that killed an 18-year-old woman and injured more than 100 other people on Saturday.
Sheinbaum justified the use of the GN by pointing to “instances outside the normal” activities in the metro system, one of the largest in the Americas and which transports almost five million passengers each day.
“We’re going to have monitoring and if they’re calling that militarization, or whatever they’re calling it, we take responsibility because it’s better to prevent than to regret. So, we’re going to take care of the public on the metro,” Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, added.
But the opposition accused the government of using the GN as a distraction from problems on the metro, which experienced its deadliest accident in May 2021 when an elevated Line 12 train killed 26 people and injured about 100 when it collapsed in the municipality of Tlahuac, on the eastern part of Mexico City.
“(Using) 6,000 members of the National Guard as a smokescreen, I want to insist, to say that on the metro something strange is happening, is sidestepping the problem,” Salomon Chertorivski, a lawmaker with the liberal Citizens Movement (MC) representing Mexico City, said on a video.
Meanwhile, senators with the rightist National Action Party (PAN) said that there were more GN personnel on the capital’s metro than in the states beset by drug trafficking violence.
“There are areas of Mexico without a single National Guard member and today they’re going to send 6,000 to the metro to satisfy the paranoia about sabotage. The CDMX metro is going to have more GN personnel than the state of Sonora, which is aflame with violence,” said Sen. Lilly Tellez.
The metro has become a political football because Sheinbaum is one of the favorites to succeed Lopez Obrador in the 2024 presidential election, along with Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who headed the capital government when the troubled Line 12 was built.