Mexico’s incoming president says that when he takes office in December, he will have an unarmed security detail consisting of 10 men and 10 women.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday, after meeting with current President Enrique Pena Nieto about the December 1 transition of power, that his security team will include professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and engineers who will receive some training, “but not for the use of weapons.”
Lopez Obrador says the 20 member team will act more as facilitators than bodyguards, and added that he would be protected by all Mexicans, ordinary people as well as soldiers.
Pena Nieto is protected by at least 2,000 armed presidential guards that include military personnel, police and civilians, according to the Reuters news agency.
Once Lopez Obrador takes office, the presidential guards are slated to be incorporated into the defense ministry.
Security officials say they are concerned about the incoming leader’s scaled back approach as Mexico experienced its deadliest political season in the run-up to the July 1 election with more than 100 politicians and candidates killed.
Lopez Obrador has promised a more austere administration. Among other things, he has said he will have the presidential plane sold.
History in politics
At 64, Lopez Obrador has been a mainstay of Mexican politics. As a young man, he was a member of the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which controlled Mexico’s government for eight decades.
Yet in the 1980s, as cracks were beginning to show in PRI’s coalition, Lopez Obrador was one of the many leftist politicians to split from the PRI, joining the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.
In 2000, Lopez Obrador — still a member of PRD — was elected mayor of Mexico City, the nation’s capital and most populated city. In this position, he gained national prominence, instituting social programs for the poor and elderly and improving the city’s infrastructure.
After his mayoral term ended in 2005, Lopez Obrador sought higher office, making his first presidential bid the following year. For much of the race, he was considered the front-runner. Yet, Felipe Calderon of the right-leaning National Action Party, or PAN, narrowly defeated him, labeling the former mayor a socialist in the mold of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The label stuck.
In 2012, Lopez Obrador ran for president a second time, but lost to now-outgoing President Pena Nieto, of PRI. Pena Nieto proved unpopular; during his time in office, Mexico’s murder rate swelled to an all-time high, the peso lost value, and Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. Trump has repeatedly used anti-Mexican rhetoric and pledged to build a wall between the two nations.
Mexico’s constitution permits presidents to serve one term; as such, Pena Nieto could not run in this year’s election. Thus Lopez Obrador, running on the newly found National Regeneration Movement, (MORENA), was able to capitalize on this discontent with the country’s status quo to finally claim the presidency.