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Media 021516 Camacho

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Glimpse at one of Mexico's Top Secret Military Documents

By Zósimo Camacho (ContraLí

On Military Base No. 1, and in a safe with the combination known to only a few members of the General Staff, the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) is safekeeping a file. That document is protected with the highest security measures. It is even prohibited to remove it from its compound.

This is Mexico's Joint Military Plan of National Defense [Plan Militar de Defensa Nacional Conjunto].

The first version of the document was prepared in 1951, which remained in effect until 2013. Of course, with "updates" and annexes that rose to 22. Thus, at the beginning of the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto [2012] there was a protocol consisting of 33 original pages, that, with its annexes, totaled 1,857 pages.

One of the first orders of the new government of Enrique Peña Nieto [2012-2018], to the Mexican Armed Forces, was to revise and update the document. At that time, the most recent update of the document was in 2004, midway through the government of Vicente Fox [2000-2006].

The "update," ordered by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, has nothing to do with the previous [document], from which only some specific observations were integrated, as annexes. What is now in effect is an in-depth revision that involved the rewriting of most of its sections, and in that involving high ranking officers of the three Standing Armed Forces of Mexico: The Army, Air Force, and Navy.

The inclusion of the Navy in the preparation of this Plan stands out, insofar as never before has this entity even had knowledge of its existence. It was an exclusive concern of the two armed forces organized and managed by Sedena: The Army and Air Force. Perhaps, therefore, it was known only as the Military Plan of National Defense. The new [document] has the word "Joint" added to its title. Thus, the Navy, the force that organizes and manages the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar), is fully integrated into the document.

The order was issued on February 15, 2013. For this, the President called the [two] heads of the three armed forces to the National Palace….  [There,] Enrique Peña Nieto instructed them "to propose and draft a national defense policy, and to review and update the Joint Military Plan of National Defense, in order to articulate the capabilities/competence of Mexico's Navy, Army and Air Force."

Work began on February 20, and ended on July 30 of that year, five months and ten days of review, updating and rewriting. The document was refined: today it consists of 60 pages and eight annexes, for a total of 248 pages.

The document is divided into three main headings: 1. To defend the integrity, independence and sovereignty of the nation; 2. To ensure internal security; and 3. To aid the civilian population in cases of disasters.

The Sedena itself explains that, "the sections included contain information on general planning policies that respond to internal and external threats that affect national security and defense."

This is the governing document for national security and defense. It has been crafted by Sedena. The National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection [Inai] has ratified the document.

"The document contains content and strategies in order for missions of the Mexican Army to be carried out, [and it] also poses hypotheses based on foreseeable threats that the country could suffer. It contains war plans, that is, how the country would respond with its various resources in order to [act in the] event of an ostensible aggression." (sic)1

The only sections to which we had access, through the General Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information … were, "II. Legal Framework," sections A, B and C; and "III. Conceptual and Doctrinal Framework," sections A, B, C, E, F and G.

Under Legal Framework, the legal provisions that sustain the document are listed, from Article 89 of the Constitution of the United Mexican States to the Organic Law of the Mexican Army and Air Force (Article 1), plus six federal laws enacted in 2000. We highlight the case 37/2000: "The Army, Air Force and Navy must act in compliance with the orders of the President, with strict respect for individual rights when, without reaching situations requiring their suspension, there is fear that by not taking action immediately [the nation could] fall into imminent serious conditions that would require a decree." (sic)2

The Conceptual and Doctrinal Framework defines national security as "the condition of peace, freedom, and social and economic justice sought by the Mexican State through a policy of integral tenable and sustainable development, within a framework of law, applying national power in order to achieve and maintain national objectives, guaranteeing integrity, sovereignty and independence despite internal and external antagonisms."

A definition of national defense is also offered: "The range of measures a State prepares and adopts in order to be defended against assaults whose effects subvert normal development, putting into action its military apparatus in order to face and eliminate the threat with the resources of national power."

Another aspect to be emphasized, from the doctrinal point of view, is the pacifist vocation of Mexico, where it is considered that "all international conflict can and should be resolved by peaceful means." The principle subsists that "a war for Mexico would only be in defense of our own territory and imposed by a case of aggression."

[The armed forces] participation in internal security deserves separate mention: The Army and Air Force "face risky situations that are attempts against the rule of law and internal security of the nation, such as combating drug trafficking; illicit arms trafficking; international terrorism; and armed groups in hideouts."


1 Author's notation

2 idem


"El documento oficial más secreto de la Sedena," Feb. 7, 2016, ContraLí; edited translation

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