Presidential candidate accuses Mexican government of political policing

Ricardo AnayaA high-profile presidential candidate in Mexico accused the government of political policing after he caught an agent of the country’s intelligence agency trailing him during a campaign trip. The candidate, Ricardo Anaya, is a rising rightwing politician who previously served as president of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies and leader of the largest opposition group in the country, the National Action Party. In December of last year, Anaya announced his candidacy for the presidency, for which he will compete in July. His primary opponents are the center-leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and José Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Opposition candidates have long accused the PRI of using state intelligence agencies to spy on them. The accusations surfaced again this week, after Anaya claimed that he was illegally followed by a government intelligence officer during an election campaign trip in Veracruz. The rightist politician said the officer, who was not wearing a uniform, followed his campaign car in a black sports utility vehicle. On Tuesday, Anaya’s campaign team publicized a video showing the presidential candidate walking up to the intelligence officer and asking him who he was. In the video, the officer says he works for Mexico’s National Center for Security and Investigation (CISEN) and claims he is there to protect the candidate from security threats. The officer is then told by Anaya that he never requested a security detail, but responds that he is simply following orders issued by his superiors.

On Wednesday, Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior, Alfonso Navarrete, told reporters that the man in the video is indeed a longtime intelligence employee of CISEN. But he added that the officer’s mission had been to “report potential mishaps” and to protect Anaya from possible attacks by Mexico’s notorious drug cartels. When he was told by reporters that Anaya had not asked to be protected by CISEN, Navarrete claimed that he thought the candidate had been notified by the government about CISEN’s “discreet presence” in his campaign. The interior secretary then said that the incident had been a mistake, and that CISEN simply failed to notify Anaya of its activities. But Anaya dismissed Navarrete’s claims as lies and said he had been followed by other CISEN officers since the beginning of his campaign.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 15 February 2018 | Permalink

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Is US-Mexico anti-drug intelligence cooperation about to end?

Enrique Peña NietoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Some senior American officials believe that the anti-drug intelligence cooperation between the United States and Mexico is in its closing stages, following tens of thousands of deaths in the past decade. Intelligence cooperation between the two countries reached unprecedented levels in the post-9/11 era, following the establishment of the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In the past decade, cooperation between Mexico’s Center for Research and National Security (CISEN) and ODNI, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, resulted in what some observers call “unprecedented bilateral action” directed against Latin American narcotics cartels. This arrangement culminated under the administration of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, when the CIA —and to a lesser extent the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Security Agency— were given unprecedented access to Mexican territory and civilian communications networks. However, in an extensive article published Sunday, The Washington Post says the close operational connection between Mexican and US intelligence agencies is quickly winding down. Citing interviews with over “four dozen current and former US and Mexican diplomats, law enforcement agents, military offices and intelligence officials”, the paper suggests that Mexico City is wary about Washington’s involvement in the so-called ‘war on drugs’. The major change on the Mexican side, says The Post, occurred last December with the inauguration of Mexico’s new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has returned to power after 13 years in opposition. Under Nieto’s administration, the Mexican security establishment, worn out by over 60,000 deaths and as many as 25,000 forced disappearances in the past few years, is intent on shifting its priorities. Instead of focusing on so-called ‘beheading operations’ —arresting or otherwise neutralizing the leadership of drug cartels— it has decided to stabilize the situation by containing —rather than eliminating— the operations of drug networks. Read more of this post