The Mexican Navy may soon be managing all of the country’s ports following a successful pilot project in two of them.
Harbor authorities, overseen by the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT), have proved incapable of fulfilling their mandate to inspect at least 20% of foreign vessels that arrive in national ports. The best they have been able to do is inspect between 2.5% and 4%.
Now, a proposal by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, calls for the transfer of all of SCT’s managerial operations to the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar).
The federal executive has asked teh Senate to reform all the pertinent laws to complete the transfer following Semar’s success in two of the most violent ports in Mexico, Lázarao Cárdenas in Michoacán and Manzanillo in Colima, both of which are important commercial hubs on the Pacific coast.
During the two-year trial period, Semar had complete control of the harbormasters’ office in both ports. One of the most successful operations in Lázaro Cárdenas included Semar’s collaboration a year ago in the apprehension of Servando Gómez Martínez, leader of the drug cartel Los Caballeros Templarios.
The cartel had expanded the scope of its operations to include shipping hijacked iron ore through the Michoacán port.
As a result of the arrest of Gómez, Semar successfully shut down extortion rings and stopped armed raids on ships and vehicles.
There was also a financial element to the Navy’s success: the Finance Secretariat has reported that tax revenue from both ports grew 30%, the movement of merchandise by 12% and the number of docked ships 10% during Semar’s tenure.
Total revenue for the federation during the two-year experiment grew 57%, and there was an increase of 10% in the number of cargo containers handled by both ports.
Semar reported that Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas have shown improvements in security, productivity and operational efficiency.
Semar officials have stressed that the transfer of managerial activities from SCT will not mean the militarization of the ports: the staff that will man the harbormasters’ offices are already part of the administrative branch of the secretariat.
Source: Milenio (sp)