MEXICO CITY -- Hundreds of Mexican federal police officers were in open revolt Wednesday against a plan for them to be absorbed into the newly formed National Guard.
Federal police at a Mexico City command center demanded a meeting with Mexico's security secretary, uniformed police blocked a major highway in front of federal police offices, and yet another contingent for hours blocked the highway between the nation's capital and a state capital, Pachuca.
The protests came as the government officially started to deploy the National Guard to several states to fight crime and control migration. The resistance threatens to complicate the formation of a new force that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has bet Mexico's security on.
The National Guard is initially being formed by military police and federal police, but it's also signing up new recruits. Lopez Obrador has been consistently dismissive of the federal police agency, characterizing it as a failed security force. He gave military officers the bulk of the responsibility for the National Guard.
Protesting police at the command center in the capital's Iztapalapa borough said that their seniority, rank and benefits are not being recognized within the National Guard.
National Guard Commandant Patricia Rosalinda Trujillo Mariel, one of the few leaders of the new force who arrived from the federal police, was jostled by the crowd as she went to meet the protesters and asked them to put forward representatives to talk.
"I am federal police, I respect the principles of my institution, and I want to have a dialogue," Trujillo shouted over the crowd.
One police representative who stepped forward without identifying himself said the protesters were waiting for the arrival of Alfonso Durazo, Mexico's security secretary, who oversees the federal police and National Guard. Trujillo said a delegation of protesters would be taken to speak with Durazo.
Police officer Alejandra Baez Villanueva said the police need their jobs to support their families.
"We aren't protesting; we're just demanding our rights," she said. "We just want them to respect our seniority because for [members of] the army and the navy, they respect it, and for us as federal police, they don't."
In front of federal police offices in Mexico City, another contingent of uniformed federal police blocked a major highway, the Periferico, backing up traffic Wednesday.
And more than 100 uniformed police blocked the highway connecting the capital and Pachuca near Ecatapec. Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions. Some bus passengers walked from one side of the blockade to the other, looking for transportation to carry them on.
The government has sent 6,000 National Guard members to the southern border in its effort to reduce the flow of migration through Mexico toward the United States, and it has sent thousands more to its northern border to deter illegal border crossings.
Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that no federal police officers would be fired and that those who qualified for the National Guard would maintain their salary and benefits. He said that joining the new force would be voluntary, but he was vague about what would happen to federal police who did not.
Information for this article was contributed by Jorge Barrera of The Associated Press.
A Section on 07/04/2019
Print Headline: Mexico police protest National Guard plan