03/27/14 (written by dsánchez) — Just weeks after the one-year-anniversary of Manuel Mondragón y Kalb’s appointment as Mexico’s National Security Commissioner (Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad, CNS), Mondragón announced his resignation on March 16, 2014. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mondragón cited “personal reasons” for his resignation. He and Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong both said that Mondragón would relinquish his position, but stay on as a contributing advisor in strategic planning for police training and education.
Manuel Mondragón y Kalb was originally planned to lead the creation of a National Gendarmerie (Gendarmería Nacional) police force in Mexico to battle organized crime in municipalities. This Gendarmerie—a proposed police force of 40,000 soldiers from the Army and Navy, but with a civilian command—was a key element in the organized crime strategy that President Enrique Peña Nieto introduced throughout his presidential campaign in 2012. The police force was originally planned to be implemented by the end of 2013, but that has since been delayed until the middle of this year. With the resignation of Mondragón, the Gendarmerie’s future is uncertain.
Mondragón’s agenda as National Security Commissioner also included a reform to the federal police to combat corruption, and to the federal prison system, which is notorious for its overcrowding and corrupt ties. In his first report as CNS in November 2013, “Mondragón y Kalb acknowledged that the government had not yet achieved ‘cleansing’ the Federal Police and removing all members who had committed acts of corruption,” writes Mexico Voices quoting CNN México. “He said he had submitted 156 criminal complaints for crimes committed by Federal Police ‘who deviated from their duty.’” Moreover, the escape of five inmates from the Ceferesco Prison in Cuidad Juárez on March 14 is significant—Mondragón announced his resignation only two days after this event.
Mondragón’s resignation is not only the second turnover of the National Security Commissioner position in just over a year; it is also the second resignation of a security official in Mexico in the past two months. General Oscar Naranjo, Peña Nieto’s chief domestic security consultant, also resigned in late January of this year to return to his home in Colombia. In an environment of dynamic and uncertain public safety and security, coupled with the growing disillusionment in some of Peña Nieto’s campaign promises, these resignations have raised questions and concerns among Mexicans about the Peña Nieto administration’s current security strategy.
President Peña Nieto wasted no time, however, in recommending Mondragón’s replacement, announcing on March 18 the nomination of high-ranking national security official Monte Alejandro Rubido García as the new National Security Commissioner. The Senate must approve Rubido’s nomination before he is officially appointed to the position.