HomeNewsAnalysisPeña Nieto Rolls Out Security Strategy

Peña Nieto Rolls Out Security Strategy


Just over two weeks after taking office, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a new security strategy for the country that will see the creation of a new and controversial gendarmerie force, but that on closer inspection appears to vary little from that employed by his predecessor.

On December 17, Peña Nieto, outlined his administration’s strategy for curbing crime in Mexico over the coming years, one which would be based on six principal initiatives. Among these was the announcement that Mexico would receive a new National Gendarmerie force comprised of 10,000 agents.

Peña Nieto declared during his presidential campaign that he would attempt to create a gendarmerie force that could count on up to 40,000 officials. This figure was not alluded to during his announcement, nor was a timeframe for when the new force would come into effect. The military will continue to be utilized in a citizen security role until the gendarmerie is ready, reported Reuters.

An advisor for Peña Nieto, who spoke to the LA Times on the condition of anonymity, stated that part of gendarmerie would be made up of former federal police officers who will lose their jobs as part of the institutional shake up. They added that the force would be primarily responsible for carrying out security patrols while the federal police would focus efforts on investigations.

Under the changes, 15 new federal police units will be created to tackle crimes such as extortion and kidnapping. Meanwhile, as part of the new government’s attempts to centralize public security apparatuses -- something which includes the elimination of the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) and bringing the federal police under the control of the Interior Ministry -- five regional centers will be set up across Mexico to coordinate crime fighting activities.

The president declared that the overall strategy would be focused on crime prevention rather than being reactionary like his predecessor’s was. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong delivered a stinging critique of former president Felipe Calderon’s policies, pointing to rises in kidnappings and extortion and stating, “financial resources dedicated to security have more than doubled but unfortunately crime has increased,” reported the Associated Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

The announcement that Mexico will indeed see the creation of a gendarmerie is somewhat controversial. In a recent op-ed, analyst Alejandro Hope* argued that creating such a force was verging on being redundant. What's more, not only is the idea of a gendarmerie archaic, its existence alongside Mexico's federal police force could bring the two institutions into conflict with one another since the gendarmerie would essentially carry out the same functions as the federal police. Therefore, Hope stated, the government would be better served focusing attention on strengthening and reforming the federal police rather than installing an entirely new force with the same role.

For all the emphasis made by the new government on making a break with the past security strategy, there may be more continuity than change. For one, the military will remain on the streets, continuing a key tenet of Calderon's strategy. As Milenio journalist Carlos Puig also points out, loose concepts such as "planning" and "evaluating state policy" are hardly revolutionary ideas, yet they serve as two of the six pillars of Peña Nieto's security strategy. True, the new government may be placing more emphasis on tackling key crimes such as kidnapping and extortion as opposed to employing Calderon's "kingpin strategy." But, as Hope told the Associated Press, there is "a lot of continuity despite the implicit and explicit criticism [of Calderon's government] that was made."

One of the more interesting developments to look out for now will be where the government focuses its strategy in the first few months of its inception. When Calderon took office in 2006, he made the state of Michoacan a focus point from the outset, with the first deployment of troops being sent there. Based on the current dynamics in Mexico's violence, Torreon and Acapulco would be unsurprising candidates for a security surge.

*Hope is a member of InSight Crime's Board of Directors.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


Mexico's tax authority has dismissed Ramón García Gibson, one of its highest-ranking officials, for “evident conflicts of interest” and his…

MÉXICO / 25 MAR 2022

According to the Mexican president, the recent arrest of the alleged leader of the Northeast Cartel followed by a major…


The death of two indigenous leaders in Guerrero, Mexico, has again drawn attention to the government’s negligent protection of indigenous…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…