In December 2006, just after taking office, Mexican president Felipe Calderon deployed Mexico’s military to the cities and countryside to take on the country’s drug trade.
It was not the first time Mexico’s military had been sent out to fight narcos, but Calderon’s escalation — from 20,000 soldiers deployed around the country to 50,000 — marked a shift, the effects of which have reverberated around the country.
But in recent months, Mexico’s military leadership, after a decade of fighting a seemingly indefatigable foe, has been increasingly critical of the tasks it has been assigned.
“We didn’t ask to be here. We don’t like it. We didn’t study how to chase criminals,” Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos said in early December. “Our function is something else, and it’s been made into something unnatural. We are doing things that don’t correspond to our training because there’s no one else to do them.”