Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for a new army garrison in Michoacan, the Mexican president revealed that a total of 8,000 troops are currently deployed in the state as part of an effort to crack down on crime.
On March 20, the Mexican government opened a military base in the southern Michoacan municipality of Tiquicheo. President Felipe Calderon spoke at the ceremony, and announced that the 600 troops posted at the garrison brings the total number of soldiers in the state to 8,000.
According to the president, these deployments were made in order to address the “irrational, absurd and inhumane” level of violence in the southwestern state. Calderon also indirectly addressed recent reports of abuses committed by security forces, calling on the troops to respect human rights in their efforts to protect the population.
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Michoacan, Calderon’s home state, was the first to see a military deployment after he took office in 2006. The president initiated another major troop surge in February to quell violent clashes between the remnants of the once-mighty Familia Michoacana and their rival splinter group the Caballeros Templarios.
With 8,000 soldiers, Michoacan is now the state with the second-largest troop presence after Tamaulipas (where 15,400 are stationed). However, it remains to be seen whether this deployment will bring security to Michoacan, which saw a rash of drug violence last year that displaced thousands of residents.
Although Mexican authorities tout the recent drop in homicides in Veracruz as proof that military presence can bring down violence, some believe otherwise. Calderon’s critics claim that deploying soldiers only aggravates violence, and can pose a threat to civilians. A January 2011 analysis of homicide data from 2006 to 2009 by sociologist and crime analyst Fernando Escalante supports this claim, indicating that troop deployments to “drug war” hotspots actually resulted in increased violence in those areas.