President López Obrador claimed yesterday there was a “dark hand” behind the protests by Federal Police officers against their incorporation into the National Guard, insinuating that they are being orchestrated by opponents of the government with the sole purpose of damaging his administration.
In a video posted to social media, the president said “there is no reason” for the protests, adding “it’s not a just cause, no Federal Police officer is being dismissed.”
“. . . It’s important for everyone to know the information, especially all those who act in good faith: there is a dark hand in this issue,” López Obrador said.
However, the president pledged that his government won’t “repress” the protesting police, asserting “we’re not the same” as previous administrations and that “the matter will be resolved because no injustice is being committed.”
Hundreds of Federal Police officers protested yesterday against plans to absorb them into the newly formed National Guard, arguing that their salaries will be cut and they will lose benefits.
They also claimed that if they refuse to join the new force, they will lose their jobs. Police are continuing to protest in Mexico City today and have maintained road blockades that were set up in different parts of the capital yesterday.
Despite the officers’ claims, the president has stressed that the process of transferring from one security force to the other is “voluntary” and that those who join the National Guard will have “the same salaries” and “the same benefits.”
In his video message, López Obrador said that 10,000 Federal Police officers have passed an entrance test and are being incorporated into the Guard.
Other agents won’t join the new security force because they didn’t pass the test, they don’t want to be evaluated by military personnel, they’re not in good physical condition or they have poor behavior records, he said.
“But they’re going to continue working in the Federal Police,” López Obrador added. “No one will be dismissed, no one will be forced to go into another [security] force.”
At his morning press conference today, the president said that cases of corruption have been detected in the Federal Police and reiterated his claim that there is no reason for the officers’ protests.
López Obrador explained that he made his “dark hand” claim “because those who are leading the protests don’t work at the Federal Police – they belong to organizations of another kind.”
Later this morning, officers rejected the president’s corruption and “dark hand” claims, asserting that no one outside the security force is involved in their protests.
However, at an 11:00am press conference, Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo elaborated on López Obrador’s assertion, claiming that there are people “linked to interest groups” behind the protests.
He said that Ignacio Benavente Torres, president of a human rights group who spent time in prison for kidnapping, is one of the protest leaders, and that the police officers asked former president Felipe Calderón to represent them.
“It’s not a coincidence that one of the representatives of the Federal Police asked ex-president Felipe Calderón to be their union representative,” Durazo said, adding that “critics of the government” are taking advantage of the officers’ protests to try to damage the López Obrador administration.
“We can’t fall into the little game of those who are trying to provoke us and say that we are the ones who abandoned the Federal Police,” he said.
However, the security secretary also said the Federal Police will be disbanded within 18 months and that its officers will enter the National Guard or, if they prefer, a range of other organizations such as the National Immigration Institute, Civil Protection services, customs or the National Anti-Kidnapping Commission.