Mexican military to take over main airports in corruption purge

ER Editor: This was reported 2 days ago. It is too easy to make sweeping generalizations, but after seeing military out in public in at least 27 regions of the US (because …?), Russia (because Prigozhin), France (because rioting) and now Mexico (because corruption), we wonder where else ‘swamp draining’ (we believe) might be taking place. AP has chosen the drug problem angle.

Security in Mexico using its military has a bit of recent history according to the AP report below. With attendant constitutional concerns. But now it seems to be ramping up.

Notice it is the navy Obrador has chosen to do the task: ‘Mexico City has the country’s most important airport, and the navy is the branch of Mexican security forces in which the U.S. authorities have the most confidence, but the U.S. has not commented on the increasing power of the Mexican military.’ The navy and marines are regarded as the two most trustworthy branches of the US military. Why should the judgement of the US be the benchmark here, and who exactly is the ‘US’ right now?

What’s really going on?


Mexican military to take over airports as president takes aim at corruption, mismanagement


The Mexican Navy is on the verge of taking full control of Mexico City’s International Airport, as President Andres Manuel López Obrador has decreed this military institution should assume full responsibility of its administration. (July ) (AP Video: Gerardo Carrillo)


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s armed forces are taking control of the capital’s main airport, and the government plans to give the military control of nearly a dozen more across the country as the president takes aim at corruption and mismanagement.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been setting the armed forces to a wide range of nontraditional tasks since he was elected in 2018, creating concerns about the separation of the military from civilian life.

A new airport was built by the army outside Mexico City a year ago at a cost of $4.1 billion. It is run by the military but little used. López Obrador says the old airport, the country’s busiest, will be run by the navy.

The navy took charge of security at Mexico City International Airport, or Benito Juárez, more than a year ago. It will soon have control of everything else, from customs and immigration to handling luggage and cleaning bathrooms, with the imminent publication of a presidential order to make that official.

The list of problems at Mexico City Airport has long included major drug shipments and illegal migration. Infrastructure was in disrepair, and a number of close calls were reported on the runways in recent years as the airport increasingly had trouble handling flights.

The airport also had a reputation for stolen luggage, mismanaged airline schedules, business without contracts and corruption.

Meanwhile, López Obrador has gone to the armed forces for help throughout his term, giving them some immigration duties and control of ports and customs. They are also building major infrastructure projects such as a tourist train through the Yucatan Peninsula and a new airport in the same area. They even run plant nurseries and tourist trips to a former penal colony.

The airport, which is used by some 4 million travelers each month, will be “a company within a naval military entity,” Rear Adm. Carlos Velázquez Tiscareño, the airport’s 73-year-old director, said in a recent interview. But, he said, “this is not going to look like a military department.”

Unlike the capital’s other airport, Felipe Angeles, where National Guard troops take passenger tickets at the gate, at Benito Juarez the only uniformed military are the 1,500 marines deployed since February 2022 for security. The rest of the airport personnel will be civilians but “with clearer rules … that govern with more order and discipline,” Velázquez Tiscareño said.

The navy will form a company called Casiopea to run the airport and six others that have “deficiencies” and are “in the hands of organized crime,” Velázquez Tiscareño said. Among them will be Matamoros, across the border from Texas, and Playa del Carmen on the Gulf of Mexico.

López Obrador has already said that he plans to have a dozen airports in the hands of the army or navy by the end of his administration in 2024. And by the end of this year, the military is scheduled to begin operating its own commercial airline.

The Mexico City takeover runs contrary to international aviation recommendations that clearly distinguish between military and civilian, said Rogelio Rodríguez Garduño, an aviation law expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University. But the legal consequences of the move remain unclear.

Earlier this year, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the transfer of the National Guard from civilian to military control was unconstitutional. López Obrador left the guard under a civilian department but with a military operational chief.


Featured images courtesy of AP video




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