Mexico Unveils New Police Force

August 25, 2014

08/25/14 The Wall Street Journal

federal police mexicoMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated a new unit of the federal police force—a scaled-down version of what was initially planned as a larger, independent gendarmerie—that aims to protect key parts of the economy, like mining operations and farms, from drug gangs.

The new 5,000-strong force, modeled after similar units in France, Spain, Chile and elsewhere, was a key element of Mr. Peña Nieto’s public security strategy during his 2012 presidential campaign. Having criticized former President Felipe Calderón’s use of the army and navy to take on drug gangs, Mr. Peña Nieto and his team envisioned a new 40,000-strong force, with recruits drawn largely from the military, which would answer to civilian authorities and allow the army to return to the barracks.

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Mexico civic groups seek Congress debate on gendarmerie

March 28, 2013

Federal_PoliceLos Angeles Times, 3/27/13

Some of the most important civic groups in Mexico are imploring President Enrique Peña Nieto to let Congress debate the wisdom of creating a new paramilitary police force, or gendarmerie, to combat the persistent scourge of violence here. The civic groups are concerned that Peña Nieto will create the new force by presidential decree, instead of introducing a bill in the Legislature. Without a vigorous debate in Congress, the groups fear, the gendarmerie may suffer from an ill-defined mandate and lack important human rights protocols, among other things.

“There are meaningful and legitimate doubts about the project,” security analyst Alejandro Hope of the Mexican Competitiveness Institute said in an interview Wednesday. “So I think it’s fair to ask for a discussion.”

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Weekly News Summary: February 15

February 15, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevel

The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon, summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week, the Peña Nieto administration unveiled its new strategy to combat organized crime, promising the creation of a 10,000-strong gendarmerie by year’s end, as well as $9.2 billion for social programs aimed at the country’s most violent towns and neighborhoods.  Mexico’s booming auto industry surpassed tourism and oil exports to become the nation’s main source of foreign exchange. The government’s efforts to transform the Mexican narrative of violence into one of prosperity and social development, however, continued to suffer setbacks following the rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco last week. Auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero continued to hold over forty people accused of several crimes hostage. North of the border, talk of comprehensive immigration reform continued, with critics warning against conditioning reform efforts on the poorly defined notion of securing the border, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano added, has “never been stronger.”

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Peña Nieto Discusses Proposed Security Force

July 5, 2012

InSight Crime, 7/3/12

Peña Nieto talked about his security plan in an interview with the Financial Times, which he said would prioritize reducing the violence endemic throughout the country rather than confronting the cartels directly, a departure from the strategy of the past six years…

Part of Peña Nieto’s strategy is to create a 40,000-member force “of military origin” controlled by civilian authorities, known as a gendarmerie. First proposed in April, Peña Nieto’s gendarmerie would “support municipalities with great institutional weaknesses or those with very few or no police.” The President-elect expects immediate results from the deployment of this force.

InSight Crime has reported on the larger security strategy proposed by Enrique Peña Nieto, including sustaining the military campaign against the drug cartels, however the gendarmerie is one of the more vague and puzzling reforms. Peña Nieto has not explained what “of military origin” really means or where the force would fit into the Mexican security force landscape. It is unclear whether the force would be comprised of current or former military officers and whether it would replace or support the armed forces in the fight against organized crime.

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