Mexico’s defense secretary has acknowledged that some areas of the country are outside government control, fueling the debate over the specter of state failure.
At a military ceremony yesterday, Mexican Defense Minister Guillermo Galvan Galva described the national security situation in stark terms. “Clearly, in some sectors of the country public security has been completely overrun,” said Galvan, adding that “it should be recognized that national security is seriously threatened.” He went on to say that organized crime in the country has managed to penetrate not only society, but also the country’s state institutions.
Galvan also endorsed the military’s role in combating insecurity, asserting that although they have a responsibility to acknowledge that “there have been mistakes,” the armed forces have an “unrestricted” respect for human rights.
InSight Crime Analysis
The speech comes after significant amount of debate by security analysts over whether or not Mexico is, or at least at risk of, becoming a failed state. In 2008, the United States Joint Forces Command likened Mexico to Pakistan in a report on failed and weak states, describing them both as “two large and important states [which] bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse” (Department of Defense, 2008). Last May, a retired general claimed that drug gangs control around 40 percent of Mexico, and in August the founder of Mexico’s leading civilian security center put the figure at around 50 percent.
In comparison to those statements, Galvan’s remarks seem almost optimistic. Still, the fact that he used the term “overrun” to describe Mexico’s security situation is a major contrast to the usual official rhetoric. President Felipe Calderon has repeatedly cast his anti-crime as a success, pointing to the large number of high-level kingpins that have been killed or captured during his term.
Galvan is not the only administration figure who has fallen short of towing the official line of insecurity in the country. Last month one of Calderon’s advisers wrote a defense of the president’s policies that, as InSight Crime reported, was riddled with holes. The timing of these incidents likely has to do with Calderon nearing the end of his term. Before Calderon leaves office in November, it is likely that even more officials will distance themselves from his security strategy, which is becoming increasingly unpopular in the country.