A gun-toting Mireles when he headed a self-defense force. A gun-toting Mireles when he headed a self-defense force.

Petition calls for former self-defense force leader to head national guard

100,000 sign petition calling for José Mireles to head government's new security force

A prominent former self-defense force leader from Michoacán has garnered strong support in Tamaulipas to be the leader of the new national guard.

José Manuel Mireles garnered 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for his nomination as the head of the new security force proposed by the federal government, said Francisco Chavira, a former independent candidate for governor in the northern border state.

Mireles, a medical doctor and co-founder of Michoacán’s paramilitary self-defense groups, attended a rally yesterday in the municipality of Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, where local self-defense group Columna General Pedro J. Méndez also threw its support behind his candidacy.

At the event, the former self-defense leader, who was imprisoned for almost three years on weapons charges that were dropped last year, expressed his support for President López Obrador.

Mireles was also elected as Mexico’s national self-defense force leader via a show of hands by the thousands of attendees at the rally, among whom were members of self-defense groups from other states.

Chavira said the petition’s 100,000 signatures were collected in less than a month and will be presented to the federal government at the beginning of March.

He explained that the backing came from “everywhere” in Tamaulipas, including the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Matamoros, Tampico, Ciudad Victoria and Ciudad Mante.

Chavira told the newspaper Reforma that they are now waiting for Congress to approve the creation of the national guard after which Mireles will be formally nominated for the role of leader.

“There is an official letter being prepared to present his nomination . . .” he said, adding that yesterday’s event attracted more than 20,000 people.

“More than 5,000 people came on horseback. There was a parade with tractors, farmers. It was a march in solidarity and support of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” Chavira said.

The ex-gubernatorial candidate explained that Mireles will undertake a national tour in support of López Obrador and to meet with activists and civil society groups.

The president’s national guard proposal attracted criticism from several non-governmental organizations, which said that it would only perpetuate the unsuccessful militarized security model implemented by former president Felipe Calderón in 2006 and continued by the previous federal government.

Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo announced last month that López Obrador had decided that the national guard should have a civilian command and not a military one as was initially proposed.

The decision followed calls for the new security force not to be under the control of the army, including from within the president’s own party.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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