I submitted a comment on Shannon O'Neil's blog Latintelligence, and it turned out to be long enough to share here.
Her post is here.
My comment, written as the Founding Editor of SouthernPulse, is as follows:
Apart from concerns over corruption and human rights, which are both important considerations, we must also keep in mind that the Mx. military is not a sustainable option for Mexico's and indeed the sub-region' long-term security for many reasons, including the solder's exposure to the temptations of organized crime.
When you consider that there is one general for every 333 soldiers in the Mexican Army, compared to one general for every 1,720 soldiers in the US Army, we have a top-heavy scenario. These numbers coupled with the fact that generals earn US$13,000.00 a month, compared to recruits, who earn US$453 a month, spells out what we would consider a significant problem with pay for recruits.
Another consideration: the contract for a recruit is three years. But when a soldier is deployed, the Mexican Army can extend the recruit's term of service by a total of six more years. This, in part, is why we've seen a consistent number of soldiers A.W.O.L. Keep in mind that when they leave, they know that no one will hunt them down for desertion. The only real penalty, apart from foregone pay, is that their command post retains federal identification documents. These are easily forged.
Our consistent worry, apart from human rights abuses and corruption, is that the military's presence in the streets exposes soldiers to a criminal element that can pay them better, offer them better equipment, and in at least the case of the Zetas, can offer them benefits for their families and an esprit de corps that in many places has begun to falter across the Mexican Army deployments.
We don't mean to suggest that all who choose to go A.W.O.L. go rogue and join the ranks of organized crime. This is not the case. But there is an opportunity and a strong incentive. The longer the military remains in the streets, the longer soldiers will have to think about crossing to the "dark side."
Along with a discussion over human rights and corruption, we should consider this exposure, as exposure is what likely most contributes to abuses and corruption.
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