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  • MEXICO TRANSITION

    Mexico's Lopez Obrador to eliminate elite presidential guard

    19 de julio de 2018

    Mexico City, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to do away with an elite security detail that for the past 70 years has been tasked with protecting Mexican heads of state and their families.

    After winning the July 1 presidential election by a wide margin, the leftist politician confirmed that he would decline the protection offered by the so-called Estado Mayor Presidencial, an elite techno-military organism that was created in the 1940s.

    AMLO also said that institution would be incorporated into the Defense Secretariat as part of his "republican austerity" plan.

    The Estado Mayor is made up of 2,021 people: 1,586 armed forces personnel, 52 federal police and 383 civilians who perform administrative functions.

    That agency's primary responsibility is to provide protection for Mexico's president and first lady, although it also safeguards relatives of the president, Cabinet secretaries, presidential candidates and other prominent political figures.

    In addition, the Estado Mayor is responsible for coordinating security and logistics for visits by foreign heads and state and government.

    Erubiel Tirado, a security expert at Mexico City's Ibero-American University, told EFE Thursday that the Estado Mayor was founded with the goal of preventing coups in the era that followed the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution.

    But he noted that a theory exists that members of that institution - dressed as civilians and embedded in the crowd - provoked the notorious October 1968 massacre of student protesters in Mexico City's Tlatelolco square by opening fire on regular army soldiers.

    He also says the Estado Mayor has been suspected of engaging in illegal spying operations.

    That security force is "irresponsible from a legal, budgetary and political standpoint ... it doesn't answer to anyone but the president," the academic said.

    But the question then arises as to what agency will provide security for Lopez Obrador, who thus far has merely said that "the people" will protect him.