Mexico's Military on the Democratic Stage
September 1, 2005
Based on information not available previously, this comprehensive study details the history, evolution, and changing relationship between the armed forces and civilian leadership in Mexico in the second half of the twentieth century. Camp focuses on the past two decades during which democratic transformation produced important changes within the armed forces, in particular the navy. Despite institutional autonomy, a lack of reform, and an increase in civilian missions, the Mexican armed forces remain subordinate to civilian political authorities, and Camp finds little evidence to support the common notion that they are a significant threat to civilian supremacy in general or to the democratic process in particular.
This work draws from published and unpublished sources, military Web sites, and material obtained through numerous freedom-of-information requests made directly through the secretariat of national defense. It includes correspondence and interviews with Mexican officers, specialists, and journalists who have covered the military and American officers who have trained or worked with the Mexican armed forces. Based on 35 years of research, Camp incorporates detailed data on 670 army, air force, and naval officers into the only comprehensive biographical data bank ever compiled on the Mexican military. This allows for insightful comparisons between the navy and army, on such topics as leadership, training, international education, and promotion. It reveals new organizational developments within the armed forces, especially the navy, and the new roles civil political institutions are playing vis-a-vis the armed forces.
Roderic Ai Camp is the Philip McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim at Claremont McKenna College and an adjunct fellow of the CSIS Mexico Project. He is the author of 20 books on Mexico, including Generals in the Palacio: The Military in Modern Mexico (Oxford, 1992).