President Enrique Peña Nieto’s new gendarmerie (military police) goes active tomorrow, yet it’s still unclear how this is supposed to demilitarize the nation’s war on drugs:

This is particularly important because the deployment of the military in Mexico sparked a massive uptick in cases of human rights abuses by government agents, as amply investigated by groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These abuses include torture, murder, and forced disappearances, which were a major source of the unpopularity — and by extension, the unsustainability — of Calderon’s policies, as well as one of the purported differences of Peña Nieto’s agenda. Yet there is little in the formation of the gendarmerie that promises a revamped human rights focus. On the contrary, as Moguel notes toward the end of his report, ‘The models of security put forth until now have advanced a vision that emphasized the protection of the state and its institutions above the security of people.’

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