The new immigration chief apologized today for calling Federal Police officers “fifís” (elitist) just hours after President López Obrador suggested he would, and in the wake of criticism from the officers’ families.
Francisco Garduño, who has only been at the helm of the National Immigration Institute (INM) since June 14, used the disparaging word last week to describe officers who complained about the conditions they faced while carrying out anti-migration operations, including having to sleep exposed to the elements or in tents.
“. . . These types of police [officers] are used to being at the Holiday Inn and eating at the buffet . . . they were fifís and they want to continue being fifís” he said, asserting that under the López Obrador administration the age of entitlement is over.
Garduño apologized for his remarks in a Twitter post this morning.
“I offer an apology for having made an unfortunate statement. I underscore my respect and support for the Federal Police as well as my commitment for them to work in decent conditions in this emerging plan to deal with migration,” he said.
Earlier today, López Obrador said that the new INM chief had made a mistake by referring to the Federal Police as fifís, a word that he frequently uses himself, usually to describe those who oppose him and his government.
“I’ve already defined who the fifís are, I’m not going to repeat it anymore,” the president said before immediately contradicting himself.
“[A] fifí is a junior [a term used to describe an entitled son of Mexico’s elite], a conservative, a hypocrite, a braggart, a crook, that’s who a fifí is, in other words not the majority of the population . . .” López Obrador said.
“Yes, [the use of the term] might have been an error, Francisco Garduño is a good person, I’m sure that he could even offer an apology without any problem.”
Yesterday, about 35 family members of Federal Police officers protested in Mexico City’s central square to denounce Garduño’s remarks and demand that he apologize.
“We demand an apology, they’re not fifís,” a woman identified only as Fanny told the newspaper Reforma.
“He said that the agents used to sleep in hotels, yes [that’s true], but sometimes there were up to 10 agents per room. So why does he dare to say they are fifís,” she added.
The woman called on Garduño to spend three nights with Federal Police officers while they are deployed on a trying mission “to see if he can survive in such a situation.”
“. . . As a wife [of a Federal Police officer] I’m up to speed about all the shortcomings [they face]. We demand an apology because it was not the right thing to have made that comment,” Fanny said.
Rodolfo Basurto Carmona of the National Police Union, one of two groups that called for yesterday’s protest, described Garduño’s comment as offensive.
“There was no reason to have expressed himself in that way, that’s why there is a demand [from the families] to at least . . . offer a public apology.”
The police officers in question have been assigned to work with the immigration institute because they didn’t meet physical requirements for transfer to the new National Guard. More than 600 officers were rejected for being overweight.