MEXICO CITY- In a bold move to combat corruption and mismanagement, Mexican military forces have assumed control of the main airports in the capital city.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been assigning nontraditional tasks to the military since his election, plans to extend military control to nearly a dozen airports across the country.
Mexican Military to Control Airports
Under President López Obrador’s guidance, the Mexican military has been entrusted with increasing responsibilities. Subsequently raising concerns about the separation between military and civilian life.
The government’s latest move involves transferring control of Mexico City International Airport, also known as Benito Juárez, to the navy. This follows the construction of a new airport outside Mexico City. Further overseen by the army but is currently underutilized.
Having assumed security duties at the airport more than a year ago, the Navy is now set to take charge of all other operations. This includes customs, immigration, luggage handling, and maintenance.
A presidential order is soon expected to formalize this transfer of control. The intention is to address longstanding issues such as major drug shipments and illegal migration. Further, the infrastructure disrepair and operational inefficiencies at the airport.
President Armed Force Expansion
President López Obrador has consistently turned to the armed forces for assistance since taking office. Subsequently, granting them immigration duties, port and customs control, and involvement in major infrastructure projects.
This expanded role now encompasses the management of airports. The military’s involvement extends to building key infrastructure projects like a tourist train in the Yucatan Peninsula and a new airport in the same region.
They are also engaged in operating plant nurseries and facilitating tourist trips.
While Mexico City International Airport serves around four million travelers each month, the director of the airport, Rear Admiral Carlos Velázquez Tiscareño, assures that it will not resemble a military department.
He states that the airport will function as a company within a naval military entity. Unlike the capital’s other airport, Felipe Angeles, where National Guard troops handle passenger tickets, civilian personnel will handle most operations at Benito Juárez.
However, there will be clearer rules and a greater emphasis on order and discipline.
Expansion of Military
The navy plans to establish a company named Casiopea to manage Mexico City International Airport. Further, six other airports that are plagued by deficiencies and organized crime.
Among the airports included are Matamoros, located across the border from Texas, and Playa del Carmen on the Gulf of Mexico.
President López Obrador intends to have a total of twelve airports under military control by the end of his term in 2024. Additionally, the military is scheduled to launch its own commercial airline later this year.
While this transfer of control blurs the lines between military and civilian aviation, Rogelio Rodríguez Garduño, an aviation law expert, points out that it contradicts international recommendations.
The legal consequences of this move remain uncertain, especially considering the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that transferring the National Guard to military control was unconstitutional.
President López Obrador has maintained the National Guard under a civilian department, albeit with a military operational chief.
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