Hundreds of activists and human rights defenders demonstrated this Tuesday in Mexico City against the reform that transfers operational control of the National Guard, a security body created in 2019, to the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena).

The demonstration, called Veiled for Peace, moved from the column of the Angel of Independence to the Mexican Senate, both located on central Reforma Avenue and separated by just over 1.5 kilometers.

“We are concerned about the militarization of public security in the country because it is giving more and more power to the military and now it concentrates public security institutions,” Luis Fernández, a member of the group Security Without War, told the media, which called the March.

The group, made up of academics, human rights defenders, activists and journalists, promotes a public debate on the security model that the country needs and was the one that led the mobilization together with the organization Amnesty International.

The initiative, approved last Saturday in the Chamber of Deputies, would transfer control of the newly created National Guard, the main civil institution of public security of the federal government, to the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena), in charge of the Mexican Army.

With candles and banners bearing the slogans “No to militarization” and “Militarization is not the solution,” hundreds of activists demonstrated to exert pressure on the Mexican Senate where the aforementioned reform will be debated in the coming days.

This Tuesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador proposed holding a popular consultation so that citizens decide if they want to keep the Armed Forces in public security tasks and evaluate the National Guard when it passes to military control.

In addition, the president supported the proposal of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to keep the Army in the streets until 2028, although the constitutional reform that created the National Guard in 2019 establishes that the military must return to the barracks in 2024.

The performance of the Armed Forces in security tasks has caused controversy in Mexico for facing accusations of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and disproportionate use of force.

Just last week, a four-year-old girl, Heidi Mariana, died from a stray bullet from the Army in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on the northern border of Mexico, according to reports from her family.

But López Obrador, who during the campaign promised to return the soldiers to the barracks, now justified the use of the military in security tasks to deal with crime.

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