The head of Mexico’s Navy, which has traditionally been at the forefront of the government’s anti-drug trafficking strategy, has called on President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto to adopt a different policy in the fight againt organized crime.
In a September 3 press conference, Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez, Secretary of Mexico’s Navy, said that he hoped the next government would make a number of adjustments to the current security strategy. in the country. In his remarks, Saynez called on Peña Nieto, who will be taking office on December 1, to prioritize intelligence work over military action.
Although he cautioned that the next government should not hesitate to continue to crack down on drug traffickers, he said that authorities should first go after those targets with the highest possibility of being found and brought to justice.
“That’s what you should focus on and, of course, try to minimize violence, bring it down, perhaps even avoiding heavy reliance on the armed forces,” said the admiral.
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The admiral’s comments are particularly powerful, as the Mexican Navy has long held a reputation as the cleanest branch of service in the country. US officials share far more intelligence with their Mexican counterparts in the navy than with the army, and navy personnel and Marines are considered the most dependable operatives in drug operations throughout the country.
His remarks amounted to a criticism of the policies of both the current administration of President Felipe Calderon and the intended approach of Peña Nieto, who has announced that he will also rely heavily on the military — at least in the short term — during his presidency. While his criticism of Calderon will likely have few consequences as he has entered the lame duck stage of his presidency, the remarks aimed at Peña Nieto may have just ensured that Saynez will be replaced in December once the new president is sworn in.