Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The Mexican government will recruit 50,000 civilians to train so that they can be part of a new National Guard in a bid to fight rampant violence and prevent crime in different areas.
"We do not have the necessary elements to fight insecurity and violence. In relation to other countries, Mexico has few policemen," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday in a press conference in the national palace as he explained the reason for the special recruitment.
"It is about making a contribution. Those that will belong the national guard will have the mission of protecting citizens," he added. At the same time, they will be expected to respect human rights, he added.
General Luis Cresencio Sandoval, Mexican Secretary of National Defense, added that the national guard will be officially created once "a constitutional reform is approved."
He said that of the 50,000 new recruits, a total of 21,170 will join in 2019 with the remainder in the following two years. Of those joining the force this year, 14,833 will be trained by the Secretary of Defense and the remainder by the Secretary of the Navy.
He said that the announcement is part of a three step plan in which the first two parts were already implemented since Lopez Obrador government started December 1.
He said that since December, 53,745 members of the country's military, naval and federal police were deployed to prevent common crimes and maintain security, and that they will be the base of the national guard being created. He cited the deployment of military personnel in state oil company Pemex as an example.
The second part of the plan was to call those in military duty to join the national guard and the third, being executed on Wednesday, is to announce the plan to recruit 50,000 civilians.
The idea is to have forces capable of social proximity while at the same time having "military values and virtues."
The announcement also comes as the number of homicides in Mexico appeared set to reach record levels in 2018.
According to a November report by ADN Politico, citing official figures, as of October there were 24,022 homicides in Mexico in the first 10 months of the year, 3,406 more than in the previous year. If the trend continued, projections were that the total toll for 2018 was going to exceed the 25,028 homicides in all of 2017.
In one example of the violence affecting the country, on Tuesday Alejandro Aparicio, the newly elected mayor of Tlaxiaco in the state of Oaxaca, along with another municipal authority, were gunned down and killed within two hours of the swearing-in ceremony.