HomeNewsWhy Mexico’s National Guard Remains Vastly Unqualified

Why Mexico’s National Guard Remains Vastly Unqualified


Over 90 percent of active personnel in Mexico’s National Guard remain uncertified two years after the security force's creation, marking the failure of a signature goal of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who created the new force.

Though the May 2019 law creating the National Guard stipulated that all its officers must be evaluated within two years, some 90,000 were still not certified by June 2021, Animal Político reported. To be certified, officers must pass evaluations of basic training, physical and psychological fitness, and polygraph and toxicology tests.

Of some 2,400 applicants tested from July 2019 to March 2021, more than half did not pass.

SEE ALSO: Is Mexico's New National Guard Just Another Uniform?

Guard certifications, meanwhile, lag far behind those of other police forces in Mexico. Some 65 percent of state and municipal police officers are certified, according to Animal Político.

President López Obrador made the creation of the National Guard a key piece of his government’s strategy to fight rising crime when he assumed office in December 2018.

The guard has been controversial from the start because of its links to the military. Former Army General Luis Rodríguez Bucio was placed in charge, and some 75 percent of its members are reported to come from the armed forces, according to Animal Político.

InSight Crime Analysis

While police forces in Mexico have long struggled with being fit for duty, the failure to certify more than 90 percent of the National Guard is likely to fuel further criticism of the force, which human rights groups say is ill-equipped for civilian policing.

Critics of Mexico’s militarized approach to policing have long pointed to a history of troops implicated in human rights violations, torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other crimes. Upon standing up the National Guard, President López Obrador said that the new force would “guarantee peace, but without excesses, without authoritarianism, respecting human rights.”

But its units have already been involved in the shooting and killing of civilians. The wife of an alfalfa farmer was shot dead when National Guard members opened fire on his truck, according to an Amnesty International report. In another case, confusion was blamed after a guard unit shot at least seven times at a Chevy Tahoe carrying officials from the Attorney General's Office in the northern state of Sonora. One person was killed and another wounded.

Between July and November 2019, National Guard members received 32 human rights complaints, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

SEE ALSO: Mexico's New National Guard Unlikely to Stem Crime Wave

Critics have also pointed to the National Guard’s many roles for which its troops are not trained. Employing the military-dominated institution in that way has created an identity crisis within the force, much like that of Mexico’s most neglected police institutions.

In theory, the hybrid military-civilian body is responsible for traditional policing, criminal investigations, supporting federal social programs, patrolling strategic infrastructure and migration installations, disrupting illicit supply chains, and providing civil protection during natural disasters.

However, the force was first deployed to patrol Mexico’s borders in an effort to appease former President Donald Trump’s demands that Mexico stop US-bound migrants. Untrained for that role, human rights groups accused the unit of human rights violations and attacking defenseless migrants.

share icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content

COSTA RICA / 19 MAR 2020

The relative tranquility enjoyed by Costa Rica, in comparison with other countries in Central America, has been offset in recent…


A gruesome battle between two relatively unknown drug gangs over a municipality in Guerrero, Mexico has led to mysterious disappearances,…


Hackers in Mexico have found a profitable illicit enterprise in extorting businesses by hijacking computer systems, another dimension in the…

About InSight Crime


Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.


Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.


InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.


With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.


We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.