Sat, Aug 11, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Lopez Obrador announces switch to unarmed security

MAN OF THE PEOPLE:Mexico’s president-elect said he would not need special guards, as he would be protected by ‘all the Mexicans,’ but added that this meant the army

Reuters, MEXICO CITY

Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday said that he will abandon the US secret service-style protection used by his predecessor in favor of a security detail of 20 unarmed men and women, including lawyers, doctors and engineers.

Since winning a landslide election victory on July 1, leftist Lopez Obrador has painted himself an everyman president, forgoing the traditional trappings of the presidency, but the absence of armed guards has raised fears in a country reeling from political, gang and drug-related violence.

There were more fatal attacks on politicians during the past election campaign than in any other in recent history, and an epidemic of gang violence made last year Mexico’s deadliest since modern records began.

Giving his first public comments one day after being officially named president-elect, Lopez Obrador said that 10 men and 10 women would be chosen to provide his security, but described them as facilitators.

He said they would not carry firearms and protection would be kept at a minimum.

“They are going to take care of me. These women and men, and all Mexicans are going to take care of me. And when I talk about all the Mexicans I’m talking about the soldiers, because the soldiers are the people,” Lopez Obrador said.

“All Mexicans are going to take care of me, but there will not be this special [government] body to guarantee the protection of the president of the republic,” he said.

He said he told incumbent President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is protected by 2,000 armed presidential guards composed of military personnel, police and civilians, that he would instead go with the much smaller security team.

Lopez Obrador has promised to run an austere, zero-deficit government, and his approach to security is a clear example of how he is breaking from the mold. The presidential guards are to be absorbed by the Mexican Secretariat of Defense once he takes office on Dec. 1.

He has promised to turn the Los Pinos presidential palace into a cultural center, have the presidential airplane sold and receive half the salary of Pena Nieto.

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