The Mexican Army and Political Order Since 1940

by David Ronfeldt


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Reputed to be one of the best "tamed" and least political in Latin America, the Mexican army may not be so inactive nor the political system so highly demilitarized as it appears. As an agency for conflict management, army involvement in public order has had considerable impact on local security, political, and socio-economic conditions, especially in rural areas. There is continued dependence upon the army and its officers for electoral defense, internal security, enforced subordination of local to presidential interests, political intelligence, and the control of opposition struggles. Such partisan political activities have been important for maintaining elite integration and institutional stability, especially at the middle levels of the regime. Attempts to eliminate the army's residual political roles would probably lead to political instability. If Mexico is entering an institutional crisis, government dependence on the army may increase.

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