‘Single Command’ Plans in Mexico Hampered by Political Divisions

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One of the main pillars of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s new Mexico security policy — the creation of a “single command” to coordinate policing — is off to a rocky start as political divisions shackle progress in violence-wracked Guerrero.

Only 33 out of the state’s 81 mayors signed an agreement to implement the new “Mando Unico” system, which will unite municipal police forces under a single, state-level command, reported Proceso.

The four mayors from the National Action Party (PAN) — the party of  former President Felipe Calderon, which lost heavily in the last elections — said they did not attend the signing of the agreement because the state government had failed to take into account their views and there was little communication over the issue.

A representative of the 31 mayors allied to the leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) said while they believed the new system would help “a little” to stem the violence, they called on the government to clarify how it would work.

Current Guerrero governor, Angel Aguirre, represents the PRD but is a former member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party PRI, and has substantial PRI backing in the region.

In contrast, in the state of Veracruz, state police will take command of forces in two municipalities after local leaders submitted a request to cede control of municipal police, reported Animal Politico.

In Fortin de las Flores and Cordoba, leaders asked state Governor Javier Duarte, who proposed a Single Command to the region’s politicians in February, to implement state control of municipal police after admitting they had lost control of the security situation.

Meanwhile, work is underway on one of the other main planks of Peña Nieto’s security policy — developing the new Gendarmerie police force. Approximately 4,000 members of the Mexican army and navy are being trained for the new force, which is slated to be 10,000 strong by 2014.

However, in an interview with Animal Politico, National Security Commissioner Manuel Mondragon y Kalb, said the new force was necessary but “not urgent.”

InSight Crime Analysis

In some respects, the political squabbling that is delaying the implementation of the Single Command in Guerrero is surprising as the policy was one of the few proposals which all the main candidates in the last elections agreed on.

However, the situation in Guerrero shows how difficult it will be to bring together a state’s disparate political factions. For local politicians the new system means relinquishing power over the local security forces — in some cases to their political opponents — and a certain amount of political squabbling, maneuvering, and reticence seems inevitable.

In Veracruz, one of the mayors involved had suggested previously that his office had lost control of elements of the security forces. In this case, ceding control to the Single Command may have strategic advantages, as local politicians shrug off responsibility for perhaps the most serious and damaging political issue in their constituencies: security.

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