May 12, 2020 / 2:19 AM / 16 days ago

Mexico's president orders military on streets to curb rising violence

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s president has ordered the armed forces to tackle security on the streets for another four years, extending a policy he had previously criticized as the government struggles to curb runaway violence.

In a notice published in the Official Gazette, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ordered that the Armed Forces (FA) participate “in an extraordinary, regulated and complementary manner with the National Guard” in public security tasks.

The armed forces will be under the command of the National Guard, the notice said, a military police created after Lopez Obrador came to the presidency on Dec. 2018. The order will last until March 2024.

The decree means the armed forces will be on Mexican streets until almost the end of the presidency of Lopez Obrador, a political veteran who often criticized former President Felipe Calderon for deploying sailors and soldiers for public security.

“His security strategy is not working and that is why he has had to order with this decree for the Armed Forces to support public security,” security specialist Juan Ibarrola told the Milenio newspaper.

Lopez Obrador won office in 2018 vowing to adopt a more conciliatory security strategy focused on the root causes of crime, in particular by reducing poverty and corruption.

But the violence has ground on during his first year and half in charge, with a record 34,582 people murdered in 2019.

Some 3,000 homicides were recorded in March this year, the second-highest monthly murder tally ever, and the biggest since Lopez Obrador assumed power.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera y Raul Cortes Fernandez; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Richard Pullin

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