Peña Nieto signals further "Colombianization" of Mexico
Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's leading presidential candidate, this week appointed Gen. Oscar Naranjo, former chief of Colombia's National Police, to work as an "external advisor" for public security if he wins the July 1 election. Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), called Colombia a "successful example" for Mexico in the fight against drug cartels. Naranjo is credited with helping take down Medellín Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar in 1993, and more recent gains against the FARC guerillas. In a press conference with Peña Nieto, Naranjo employed the rhetoric of Colombia's so-called "democratic security" model: "Security, understood as a democratic value, is expressed in policies that are totally inclusive, that protect everyone." An official biography of Naranjo distributed to reporters lists him as an "honorary member" of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
This last point has provided propaganda ammo for Peña Nieto's rivals. "Unlike the PRI candidate, who trusts more in a foreigner than in our armed forces, I do trust in Mexico's soldiers," said Josefina Vazquez Mota, candidate of the ruling National Action Party (PAN).
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, running on the ticket of a leftist coalition led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), said bringing in Naranjo would violate Mexico's constitution. "Do you understand that the Constitution prohibits foreigners from taking part in security issues in our country?" he asked supporters. (LAT's World Now blog, June 19; El Colombiano, Medellín, June 18; Blog de Izquierda, Mexico, June 16)
Mexico has already been turning to Colombian security forces for training and aid in the so-called "war on drugs."
In another sign of a crackdown on the narco links of Mexico's political elite, soldiers acting on orders of federal prosecutors seized a ranch and the offices of former Tamaulipas state Gov. Eugenio Hernández Flores (PRI). US authorities charge that another PRI ex-governor of the northern border state, Tomás Yarrington, took money from the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. That charge is made in several US civil and criminal cases filed against other defendants tied to Yarrington. Neither Hernández nor Yarrington have been charged with any crime. (AP, Hoy Tamaulipas, June 5)
Cynics will point out that a crackdown on the Gulf Cartel and Zetas—both based in Tamaulipas—is convenient, when the Mexican state is widely accused of collaborating with the rival Sinaloa Cartel.