So this is what we get from the idiot Pena Nieto. Militarization of the police force to combat the war on drugs. Great,,,, just what Mexico needed.
MEXICO CITY – Navy marines hauled out a young man for the assembled media last month, saying the suspect was the son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa cartel and Mexico’s most wanted man.
The same authorities later confessed to making a mistake: Their suspect was, in fact, an unrelated used-car salesman.
Such snafus show the shortcomings with intelligence gathering in Mexico, where soldiers and police sometimes don’t share information, lack coordination and “do not trust each other,” says Mexico City security expert Alberto Islas.
It’s among the challenges facing newly elected Enrique Peña Nieto, who assumes the presidency Dec. 1 and inherits a security situation in which some 50,000 lives have been lost over the past six years.
Peña Nieto promises to focus more on crimes such as extortion, kidnapping and murder committed against common people, instead of taking down cartel kingpins who are quickly replaced by underlings hungry to control the vast criminal empires.
He has called for creation of militarized police units — its members coming from the military — to intervene in hot spots, although details have been lacking. And although his plans are not unusual, his pick to advise him on cutting crime is.
Peña Nieto has gone outside his country’s borders and tapped the former head of the Colombian National Police, retired general Óscar Naranjo, to help him implement his anti-crime policy. Naranjo is credited with calming Colombia after decades of drug-related violence through high-tech surveillance in cooperation with theUnited States.
Improving intelligence gathering so that police could move against drug cartels, rebels and paramilitary groups was among his main accomplishments in Colombia, Islas says.
“Naranjo was able to develop a common agenda and a strong coordination within the Colombia government,” Islas says. “This created trust and a series of success stories that fortified the exchange of information.”
The recently retired Naranjo comes to Mexico as a highly touted foreign security adviser, though he’s not the first. This year’s election runner-up and then-Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador hired former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2002 to advise on fighting crime in the national capital. Reviews of Giuliani’s work in Mexico were mixed, but his arrival made a media splash.
Naranjo’s hiring was targeted toward the United States, where disquiet over the return of Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) — and the PRI’s alleged history of doing deals with drug cartels during its 71 years in power — was being voiced, political analyst Raymundo Riva Palacio wrote in the newspaper 24 Horas. “Contrary to what some sectors (abroad) thought about how the return of the PRI might be opening the door to negotiations with drug cartels, the incorporation of Óscar Naranjo demonstrated that wouldn’t be the case,” Palacio wrote.
Naranjo promises results in Mexico. He told the Associated Press his goal is to cut violence in Mexico in half over the first 100 days of Peña Nieto’s presidency. He also spoke of creating elite units to target criminals, not just the big-time drug dealers, but cartel gunmen, too.
Security analysts differ on Naranjo’s prospects for success and role in crafting security strategy. “He’ll play a minor role … maybe write strategy papers,” said Alejandro Hope, security analyst at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think tank.
How Naranjo coexists with the Mexican military — which still has soldiers in the streets — also raises questions. For Peña Nieto “to appoint a foreigner … strikes me as a serious vote of no-confidence in his own men,” says journalist Malcolm Beith, author of two books on Mexico’s drug war.
Policing differences in the two countries presents another potential problem.
Colombia has a national force with 180,000 members serving a population less than half the size of Mexico’s 115 million inhabitants. In Mexico, there are more than 1,500 forces, ranging from an expanded and increasingly better-trained and better-equipped Federal Police with 32,000 officers to 31 state police forces of varying competence to municipal forces, whose average member has an eighth-grade education, according to federal figures.
Mexico’s state governors — nearly two-thirds of whom belong to the PRI — have showed little enthusiasm for relinquishing authority over security matters and have been uncooperative with federal programs for putting state and municipal cops through vetting processes, including polygraphs and drug tests.
Having to confront corruption, incompetence and political intransigence might make Naranjo the right man for the job, says Steven Dudley director of InSight Crime, a group that researches organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“He has an entire history of being connected to a discredited institution that has remade itself into a regional leader,” Dudley says. “He’s seen it go — in the Colombian experience — from complete darkness to quite a bit of light. … There is nothing more valuable on his résumé than that.”