Alfonso Durazo leaves the Secretariat of Security in the midst of a crisis of violence to be a candidate

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The official, who aspires to the Government of Sonora, leaves little results in 22 months of management in a country with 64,000 homicides

Mexico is looking for a new Secretary of Security. Alfonso Durazo, who assumed the portfolio with the arrival to power of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has advanced this Wednesday that he will present his resignation, scheduled for before the end of October. The official has said that he will seek the governorship of the State of Sonora, in the north of the country, and has defended that his 22 months in office have represented a “turning point” in the fight against the wave of violence that is hitting the country. Durazo says goodbye to the Cabinet with 63,792 malicious homicides until September; the rise of femicides, a country where 10 women are murdered daily, and the shadow of the Culiacanazo, the failed operation to capture Ovidio Guzmán, son of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, who unleashed chaos a year ago in Culiacán, the stronghold of the Sinaloa cartel.

“I resign from the Cabinet, but not the historic project that the president has represented,” the official said after presenting his last monthly report at López Obrador’s morning conference. Durazo has maintained that murders in September fell 8.4% compared to August and 4% compared to the same month last year. If you compare the first nine months of this year with the last, which broke a record for murders, it shows, in fact, an increase of 1%. The larger photograph paints a more worrying panorama, in which the López Obrador government has had a security policy that has been criticized as erratic, going from the famous “hugs, not bullets” to entrusting the bulk of the tasks to the Army and the Navy, at a time when the Armed Forces are more questioned than ever after the arrest of General Salvador Cienfuegos, Enrique Peña Nieto’s Secretary of Defense, in Los Angeles last week. “We receive a country smelling of gunpowder, in the worst possible scenario,” the official justified.

As happened after the scandal that has surrounded the Army, the president has also come out to tuck in his secretary. “I am persuading him to stay because he has done a very good job and has helped us a lot,” López Obrador said. Durazo has entered into the exchange of praise and has thanked the “historic opportunity” he received, while defending the creation of the National Guard, a military-style security body founded last year, as one of his main achievements. “Corruption and violence were not reduced, on the contrary,” Alejandro Madrazo, an academic at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching, refuted in an interview last week. “We have a president who did not dare to confront militarization and who is subject to the Army,” criticized the specialist.

The departure of the highest-ranking civilian command in the Security Cabinet has opened the door to endless speculation about his replacement, since Durazo made public his intention to seek a candidacy in the 2021 elections, in which they are at stake. 15 governorships and the renewal of the Chamber of Deputies. The names of Omar García Harfuch, Mexico City Police Chief, Marcelo Ebrard, Foreign Minister and Secretary of Security when López Obrador governed Mexico City (2000-2005), as well as undersecretaries of Security.

The Government has not officially advanced anything, but in the background of the new appointment is the need to send a strong message to Mexico and the United States, which has opened the door to press more on the issue of security in the bilateral relationship. The White House has sent signs of distrust and boredom to its Mexican counterparts, with the arrest in the last 10 months of Cienfuegos and Genaro García Luna, Felipe Calderón’s drug czar (2006-2012), both for drug trafficking. “Something has been broken in the bilateral relationship, the US has been increasingly critical of López Obrador’s security policy,” says Lila Abed, a Mexican consultant for Joe Biden’s campaign, who predicts the arrival of uncomfortable issues for this administration if the Democrat wins and a less terse relationship if Donald Trump is reelected.

The electoral path of Durazo will not be easy, who began his career in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and was private secretary of the conservative Vicente Fox (2000-2006). The 2021 votes are shaping up to be a huge plebiscite in the middle of López Obrador’s term, a drag effect that he will seek to capitalize on and a double-edged sword for Durazo, which will run for the governorship of a state particularly sensitive to the insecurity crisis that has crossed the country for more than a decade. Before getting on the ballot, the ruling Morena bloc and its allies will have to define if they will maintain their coalition, given the intention of the Labor Party to nominate the Olympic medalist Ana Gabriela Guevara, who has been a senator and head of the commission in charge of sport in this Government.

While the game of uncovering deputies, senators and members of the Cabinet to seek new positions begins next year, the reorganization of the president’s coalition opens up as a front of insecurity, a major challenge for his government. On the Executive’s pending list is the string of violent records broken, the lack of homologation of crimes to stop femicide violence, little confidence in the system of prosecution and administration of justice, the power of criminal groups and his questionable relationship with the Army, to whom he has given concessions unseen for decades. “We cannot pretend that the problem is simple,” Durazo has acknowledged and added that he has no recommendations for his successor.

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