Country Listing

Mexico Table of Contents


Armed Forces

Constitutional and Legal Basis

The constitution of 1917 established the guiding principles for the armed forces and placed restrictions on their activities. Article 89 places the military under the control of the president of the republic, who, as commander in chief, is responsible for seeing that the armed forces fulfill their obligation to guarantee "internal order and external defense." The restriction on peacetime interference by military authorities in civilian affairs or other activities not "directly connected with the military discipline," set forth by Article 129, has often been abused, however, usually on the order of the president. The final constitutional provision for establishing government control of the armed forces, Article 132, places all military facilities and properties under federal jurisdiction.

A series of laws enacted in 1926 further shaped the armed forces. The most important of these, the Organic Law, gave them a threefold mission: "to defend the integrity and independence of the nation, to maintain the constitution, and to preserve internal order." The basic law subsequently has been modified to keep pace with political, economic, and social changes in the Mexican state.

Three additional laws enacted in 1926 also sought to regularize military practices. The Law of Promotions and Compensation established a pay scale for each rank and competitive examinations for promotion. The Law of Military Discipline further defined the obligations of the armed forces to society, requiring that each soldier, "in fulfillment of his duties, sacrifice all personal interests to the sovereignty of the nation, to loyalty toward its institutions, and to the honor of the National Army." The Law of Pensions and Retirements set a mandatory retirement age and provided pensions for military retirees and allowances for military dependents. Although all of these laws have been modified to meet the needs of changing times, they remain the institutional foundation of the Mexican military.

Data as of June 1996