|President elect Pena Nieto|
A proposal by the transition team of Mexican president elect Enrique Pena Nieto has the Mexican left up in arms and claiming the proposal is throwback to the Mexican Dirty War of the 1970s and 1980s, according to numerous Mexican press reports.
According to press reports, president elect Pena is seeking to eliminate the Secretaria de Seguridad Public (SSP) and move its fuctions, primarily the Policia Federal (PF) to the Secretaria de Gobiernacion (SEGOB) or Interior Ministry.
The proposal was formally presented last Thursday by Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) Mexico state federal deputy José Sergio Quiroga Manzur. According to a report published on the website of Milenio news daily, Sergio Manzur said the reform was intended to "ensure strong coordination" with regard to the internal security of Mexico.
The proposal so far has been seen by Mexican security experts as generally positive. An El Universal news daily report quoted two experts, Samuel Gonzalez, an independent security consultant, and Jorge Chabat, a professor at the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica (CIDE).
Gonzalez was quoted by El Universal saying that the SSP was never a federal security agency, but rather a police agency, whose functions belonged in SEGOB because its inclusion into arguably the most powerful federal agency would improve "coordination actions of public security."
Chabat said that folding the SSP into SEGOB would increase the powers of SEGOB to the extent it would give it a function outside the one it current has and that is of a coordination agency, sort of a chief of staff.
It should be noted that the SSP and the PF are both creations of the PRI, with the PF created during the term of the last PRI president, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon.
But objections to the proposal have been voiced from Mexico's leftist political parties, mainly coming from Jose de Jesus Zambrano Grijalva, president of the Partido de Revolucion Democratica (PRD), who said in an El Universal wire story he sees the reorganization primarily as a political move.
"We can not allow,much less agree, that the return of public safety to (SEGOB) for political purposes..," said Zambrano Grijalva, adding that the SSP in SEGOB could be used for punitive actions in a political context, "...and that we can not afford."
Zambrano Grijalva also said that he sees the move as Pena's "Get Tough" policy on security.
In his remarks, Zambrano also raised the specter of late Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, head of the now defunct Direccion Federal de Seguridad (DFS). That agency was used by a series of PRI presidents against several leftist movements starting in the late 1960s, many of them violent during Mexico's Dirty War. Zambrano Grijalva raised the objections because he himself had been a victim during the Dirty War along with others of Mexico's left.
PRD Senator Miguel Barbosa said that his party's caucus would not oppose the move, due to take effect December 1st when president elect Pena takes office. The new reorganization is likely to be approved anyway even without support from the left.
Senator Barbosa also characterized the proposal as "insane."
Partido Trabajo (PT) deputy Manuel Bartlet, himself a former interior minister, said the proposal reminded him of the "mega secretaria" or mega-ministry of the 1970s, which he said was a reminder of how powerful SEGOB was during past PRI administrations.
Deputy Bartlett was Interior Minister under the presidency of the late Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid in the 1970s.
PRD general secretary Dolores Padierna Luna called the proposal "dangerous." She said that she saw the proposal as an attempt to concentrate political control into one single agency in the Mexican federal government.
|Dolores Padierna Luna|
Zambrano Grijalva also said that reforms passed in the 12 years since the last PRI president, would probably prevent abuses by the incoming president elect Pena.
In the area of security reforms president elect Pena faces a legislative headwind starting out. Last month, his caucus' attempt to steam roll labor reforms was a test of how well PRI, in its weakened state in the Chamber of Deputies, could advance its own reforms. PRI had to use another minority party, Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL) to move labor reforms in the Chamber of Deputies, a margin of only two votes necessary to move the legislation forward. PRI failed to gain a clear majority in the election that returned PRI to the presidency, and even with its electoral ally, the Partido de Verde Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM), the Mexican greens party, the PRI Chamber of Deputies coalition was forced to make a deal with PANAL to move labor reform along.
PRD has its own problems in the senate in opposing PRI reforms. When the labor reform legislation reached the senate, Partido Trabajo (PT) members began to make noises about increasing its role in their coalition with the PRD and the Movimento Ciudadana (MC), another political minor party tied to the left.
But for the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) wanting to deny the senate a quorum -- to the extent PAN even rented a suite of hotel rooms in Mexico City for that purpose -- the labor reform legislation, even with the many objections PRD and the parties of the left voiced, may well have been passed in its original form.
Throughout his campaign, president elect Pena has publicly said that he intended to change the strategy in dealing with Mexico's organized problem, even going as far as using a former Colombian police commander, Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo, as his advisor. Pena has also said in remarks to the press that he intended to raise the profile of Mexico's police forces, and diminish the role of Mexico's armed forces in the drug war.
But with less than 12 days away from his inauguration, Pena has yet to give any indication of who he intends to appoint as heads of several Mexican federal agencies. Naming a new Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) and Secretaria de Marina (SEMAR), as well as SEGOBwould be a clear indication of how he intends to use his powers as president to deal with Mexico's organized crime problem.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com.