Mexico proposes expanding army's role
MEXICO CITY - A bill that would let Mexico declare temporary states of emergency and expand the army's power in a bloody fight against powerful drug gangs drew immediate fire yesterday from human rights activists who say soldiers should not be doing the job of police.
President Felipe Calderón's proposal, which centers on declaring drug trafficking hotspots "domestic security" zones, would give the army access to civilian court and police files.
The measure was submitted to Congress late Wednesday.
"The expansion of organized crime poses new challenges for democratic societies," it reads.
Cartel battles have cost more than 10,700 lives since Calderón took office in December 2006.
Yesterday morning, police found a man's decapitated body in the middle of a road in Tijuana, a gang-ridden city across the border from San Diego. The body was wrapped in a sheet, and the head had been placed on his chest inside a plastic bag.
By law, soldiers are limited to a support role for police.
The proposal would place troops at the head of anticrime efforts in some areas, formalizing the reality that in some places the military has effectively replaced weak or corrupt local forces.