Mexico’s highest court on Thursday overturned a contentious new security law aimed at regulating the long-time use of the military against drug cartels, a day after the president-elect’s team said it was impossible to pull troops from the streets.
Nine of 11 Supreme Court justices vetoed the measure, which President Enrique Pena Nieto sent to the court for constitutional review after signing it in December.
The law intended to set out the rules under which armed forces can target organized crime, formalizing former president Felipe Calderon’s deployment of the military to the streets some 12 years ago. An estimated 170,000 people have died in the ensuing conflict and thousands more have gone missing.
Human rights groups warned the law could open the door to abuses by the military, already accused of human rights violations.
The nine judges said Congress does not have the authority to legislate on “domestic security.” They called the law “unconstitutional” and said only the executive branch can dispatch troops.
President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, has vowed to radically alter Mexico’s strategy to fight violence, including pardoning low-level drug offenders and addressing root causes such as poverty.
Alfonso Durazo, Lopez Obrador’s future security minister, said at a press conference on Wednesday “there is no way” to withdraw armed forces from the fight against organized crime, because they are more trustworthy and capable than the police.
He added that the government would propose forming a National Guard that would take over the army’s role half-way into Lopez Obrador’s six-year term. The body would comprise 50,000 people from the army, navy and federal police.
Senator Mario Delgado, a leader of Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), said the party next week will present an initiative to reform the constitution and allow a future National Guard to patrol the streets.
The opposing National Action Party (PAN) rejected the plan.
“Lopez Obrador’s proposal completely abandons the civil path and opts for a military proposal,” said party president Marko Cortes.
Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Grant McCool
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ran warned Sunday that the fate of a UK-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain prepared for an emergency security meeting on Tehran's action.
Iranian authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it Friday in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz.
Video footage released by Iran showed the Stena Impero tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.
In an audio recording of a radio exchange, an Iranian officer can be heard ordering the tanker to change course "immediately".
For Cubans — a day at the beach is no easy task
Cuba's constitution guarantees its people access to its beaches, but many locals are unable to enjoy the island's pristine white sands and crystal clear blue waters.
While foreign tourists flock to such paradisiacal Havana sites as Varadero, which was this year named the second most-beautiful beach in the world by American travel website TripAdvisor, Cubans are typically found elsewhere.
"Not many tourists come here," said 43-year-old Rey Gonzalez, who was enjoying a day at Guanabo, a beach east of the capital.
Guanabo's sand isn't as white and the water not quite as clear as Varadero's, but that mattered little to Gonzalez, who was there with his family.