MEXICO CITY (CN) - Candidates in Mexico's upcoming presidential elections will receive military protection during their campaigns, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday.
The National Defense Secretariat has already sent protection plans to opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez and the ruling Morena party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, the president said during his morning press conference in Mexico City.
He promised others would receive the same protection as well.
"We have to guarantee protection to all candidates who need it in order to avoid misfortunes," he said. "In the history of Mexico, there's always more volatility, division and even violence during times of transition."
The Galvez and Sheinbaum campaigns did not respond to a request for comment.
Candidate security is not a novel concept in Mexico nor elsewhere, but protection for the 2024 hopefuls will be different from past presidential elections in that the military will be in charge, according to security analyst Alberto Guerrero Baena.
In the past, such operations were carried out by the former federal police, intelligence services or other security forces, Guerrero said.
Lopez Obrador's announcement also stood out for the fact that he announced it, Guerrero said.
"They didn't used to talk about protection operations like this," he said. "Today, with the issue of the narco-government, or entire regions controlled by organized crime, it's necessary to have specific plans for each candidate."
The subtext beneath the president's statement is that the country is not safe, Guerrero said.
Protecting presidential candidates will be another new task for Mexico's military under Lopez Obrador's direction. During his term, the armed forces have taken on new duties like building airports, tourist trains and other infrastructure projects, running airport security, customs and air traffic control, and even owning and operating an airline, hotels and other tourism services.
The National Defense Secretariat did not respond to a request for comment.
But the security landscape for presidential candidates will indeed be much different from that of past elections, said independent political and security analyst David Saucedo.
Organized crime now presents a "real and tangible threat" to presidential candidates in Mexico, he said.
Candidates during the seven-decade reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party did face threats in running for office, but "the main risk to candidates was paradoxically the authoritarian government itself," Saucedo said.
Therefore stepping up security around candidates makes sense in the current security climate in Mexico, which has seen record-high levels of violence during the Lopez Obrador administration.
"They will be going to various places in the country in which there will be direct threats from organized crime to political power," Saucedo said, adding that state and municipal-level candidates will also probably solicit military protection.
Jalisco, Guanajuato, Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas, Tabasco and Yucatan will elect new governors in 2024, and Mexico City will elect a new mayor.
"In the past, when municipal-level candidates received threats, there were cases in which the political parties declined to present candidates in states like Sinaloa and Durango, so this is an appropriate measure to take," he said.
Source: Courthouse News Service