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Mexico: Civic Action
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces > Civic Action


Civic-action programs designed to improve socioeconomic conditions and develop public facilities traditionally have been an important mission of the armed forces. As early as 1921, labor battalions created by order of President Obregón were employed in road construction, irrigation projects, and railroad and telegraph maintenance. The Organic Law of the Armed Forces directs the army and the air force to "aid the civilian population, cooperate with authorities in cases of public necessity, [and] lend assistance in social programs." Programs designed to meet these aims have been given high priority since the 1960s.

By the 1980s, civic-action programs encompassed a wide range of activities carried out by military zone personnel, often in coordination with government agencies. These programs reinforced the army's ties to the country's rural inhabitants and promoted national development. The army was placed in charge of coordinating disaster relief in 1966 under Plan DN III. Military zone personnel assist the rural population in literacy programs, road building, bringing electricity to rural villages, repairing equipment, school restoration, immunization, and dental care, and in some cases provide emergency surgery in military hospitals. Military personnel also serve as escorts on the national railroads, patrol federal highways on national holidays, and participate in campaigns to eliminate livestock disease and crop damage caused by insect infestations.

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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