Mexico's Secretariat of Public Security (SSP), the body charged with handling internal security, has formally been dissolved, part of an anti-crime strategy that President Enrique Peña Nieto argues will be different from his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
On January 3, powers were officially transferred from the SSP to the Interior Ministry, which will now be the primary agency in Mexico responsible for internal security, as Excelsior reports. These responsibilities include oversight of the Federal Police and the country's penitentiary system.
The move was announced by President Enrique Peña Nieto in mid-November last year, two weeks before he took office, with Congress voting overwhelmingly in favor just a week later.
The dissolution of the SSP represents a return to pre-2000, the last time that Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was in power. Prior to the SSP's creation under President Vicente Fox, the Interior Ministry was the main agency responsible for security policy.
Insight Crime Analysis
The SSP was a cornerstone of former President Felipe Calderon's strategy against organized crime. Peña Nieto's decision to dissolve the agency can thus be seen as further evidence of his administration's desire to mark a clean break from Calderon's approach, something which the new president emphasized when he rolled out his security strategy last month.
It remains to be seen whether the move will have any impact. Peña Nieto and other experts have argued that centralizing powers under the Interior Ministry should improve inter-agency cooperation, and hence make it easier for the government to pursue a cohesive security strategy.
Other aspects of Peña Nieto's proposed security plans have also been questioned. A key component of Peña Nieto's plan is the creation of a new National Gendarmerie comprised of 10,000 agents, which will answer to the Interior Ministry. As analyst Alejandro Hope* has noted, this could create conflict between the Federal Police and Gendarmerie since both will essentially be carrying out the same function. Such tensions could prove detrimental to bringing Mexico's security situation under control.
*Hope is a member of InSight Crime's Board of Directors