Mexico’s Calderon names new security chief
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president accepted the resignation yesterday of his top domestic security official, Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont, and named a former congressman with experience in fighting drug cartels to replace him.
President Felipe Calderon praised the hands-on experience the new federal interior secretary, Jose Francisco Blake, gained serving in the same post at the state level in Baja California, a border state plagued by drug violence.
“In that position, he has played a fundamental role in confronting in a decisive way the problems of violence in that state,’’ Calderon said of Blake, who will oversee the multi-agency national security council.
“The knowledge he has of crime and the good relations he managed to build between the police and army in the fight against crime in Baja California, will without doubt be of great value in strengthening the fight for public safety.’’
Mexico’s federal police and the army have played the leading roles in a war against drug cartels that has cost more than 22,700 lives since Calderon announced an anti-drug offensive in late 2006.
The Interior Department that Blake will head plays a key role in coordinating efforts between the forces and intelligence gathering. It also recently began promoting a series of social programs it said are aimed at reducing the poverty and unemployment that contribute to the drug problem.
One of the challenges facing the new interior secretary will be gaining approval for a government proposal to combine scattered, ill-equipped, and poorly supervised city police forces into a single statewide force.