Mexico City, Sep 30 (EFE).- President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during a rally this weekend that the Mexican army would be reformed to guarantee peace and prevent tragedies like the 1968 student massacre.
“Fifty years ago, the repression of young people in ’68 … in this historic square of the Three Cultures, we make the commitment never again to use the army to repress the people of Mexico,” the leftist politician said at a huge rally on Saturday on the plaza in the capital’s Tlatelolco district.
Surrounded by thousands of supporters, Lopez Obrador recalled the 1968 student movement and paid tribute to the dozens of young people killed in the Tlatelolco massacre on Oct. 2, 1968, one of the darkest episodes of state repression in Mexican history.
The tragic event spurred the future president, who will take office on Dec. 1, to declare that he will fight against the wave of violence and lack of security in Mexico and, at the same time, to reform the army and navy, troops of which are currently patrolling the streets of the country.
“We have to take into account that the army (consists of) uniformed members of the public and not to see soldiers and sailors as enemies,” the leftist said.
Soldiers must continue to perform public safety tasks, but the work of the army must “turn around,” the president-elect said.
A Civil Guard will thus be created on the national level to unify the different security forces such as the army, navy and Federal Police, Lopez Obrador said, adding that the new agency will seek “to limit the use of force and respect human rights.”
“It’s reform of the army that I’m going to propose at the proper time,” he said, insisting that he will eliminate the Presidential Guard, or Estado Mayor Presidencial (EMP) – which protects the president – and transfer the 8,000 troops comprising the unit to the Defense Secretariat, the president-elect said.
In the face of a strong student movement seeking greater freedoms, on Oct. 2, 1968, security forces fired at point blank range onto a peaceful student rally on Tres Culturas Plaza.
Although the figures vary, at least several dozen students were killed and thousands more were arrested.