Chile has 10 F-16Cs and eight F-16Ds and has ordered another 18. Its air forces is perhaps the most powerful in Latin America, with 75 combat planes and its training, transport, and surveillance fleet. Other countries also have substantial arial power. Brazil doesn't have any F-16s, but it does have 55 F-5s and 40 AMXs, which are made in that country. Venezuela has 17 F-16As and four F-16Bs, aside from 14 French Mirage planes. Cuba has almost 200 Russian Migs for its national defense, but part of them aren't operational or are in storage.
I wonder at what point military robustness (it's a word!) becomes a point of pride more than necessity. Mexico is in less danger of armed invasion than any of those other nations (with the exception of perhaps Brazil), because, aside from the lack of any external threats, the United States wouldn't allow an invasion into Mexican territory. And this is all in a region with a very low probability of a traditional war, i.e. state versus state, army versus army. For Mexicans, American protection is understandably not an acceptable substitute for an autonomous defense policy, but the fact that Mexico is the southern neighbor of the world's strongest military is certainly more of a deterrent than a handful of new jets.
Were the military, as Sierra suggests, to formulate a plan articulating a long-term strategy, it would be helpful if that reality influenced its thinking. It would also be helpful if there was more consensus about the proper role of the military in the fight against drug gangs.