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Cablegate: Mexico's Pri Talks Tough On Security Issues

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2928/01 2751239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011239Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3443
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 002928

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO'S PRI TALKS TOUGH ON SECURITY ISSUES

REF: MEXICO 02864

1. Summary. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of
late has ramped up criticism of President Felipe Calderon's
handling of Mexico's security problems, probably in large
part to rally support and to distinguish itself from
Calderon's National Action Party (PAN) in the runup to the
2009 legislative and key gubernatorial elections. The
September 15 Independence Day attack in Morelia, Michoacan
State has only given the PRI more ammunition to use in an
attempt to tarnish the administration's crime-fighting
record. While PRI will have to carefully balance its goal of
scoring legislative victories off Calderon with the Mexican
public's clamor for more effective and efficient resolution
of security matters, its efforts may still further complicate
an already onerous legislative session. End Summary.

Tough Talk...
-------------

2. PRI in recent weeks has upped its criticism of the
Calderon government's handling of Mexico's security situation
and has engaged in some grandstanding on security-related
budget items. During contentious question and answer
sessions in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies on
September 22 and 23 respectively, PRI officials lambasted
Public Security (SSP) head Genaro Garcia Luna, Attorney
General Eduardo Medina Mora, and Secretary of Government Juan
Camilo Mourino for the administration's crime fighting
measures. PRI senators walked out of Monday's session to
protest what they claim was unwillingness on the part of the
security officials to diverge from prepared talking points
and address questions posed by opposition lawmakers.
Moreover, despite a joint declaration signed by all three
major parties--posted prominently on PRI's official
website--calling for unity following the Morelia attacks, PRI
leaders within days of the event censured the Calderon
government's anti-crime efforts. PRI Senate coordinator
Manlio Fabio Beltrones publicly questioned Calderon's ability
to prevent a further deterioration of Mexico's security
environment while Mexico City daily Reforma reported that PRI
deputies met to discuss asking for the resignation of top
security officials.

...And Some Action
------------------

4. The PRI is "moving aggressively on crime," PRI Deputy
Emilio Gamboa, president of the Chamber's Political
Coordination Board and head of the PRI faction in the Chamber
told Polcouns on Sepember 29, which will be reflected this
legislative session. PRI has demarcated several key areas in
which it differs from Calderon's proposed security
legislation and plans to submit its own counter-package this
week. Gamboa noted that PRI principally objects to the
creation of a "national police force," arguing that PRI wants
better coordination among the various forces rather than a
"superpolice" that would have a monopoly on law enforcement
in the country. Staffers of PRI Deputy Marco Antonio Bernal
told Poloffs on September 30 that the party also differs with
the administration on granting police units the authority to
seize assets from organized criminals prior to their
conviction in court and with the mechanism for selecting the
Attorney General (PGR). They said that the PRI wants to see
a PGR more "autonomous" from the executive branch with an
Attorney General and federal prosecutors nominated, approved,
and subject to removal by the Senate rather than the
president. PRI's security package also reportedly includes:

--The creation of a new institution that will
coordinate obligatory exchange of information throughout
national police files, including criminal files and police
databases that include payroll information, fingerprints,
vehicle registry, and weapons data. The institution would
also look to improve coordination between federal, state,
and local law enforcement entities and would be in charge of
implementing public security policies;

--Increase in penalties for kidnapping and the
elimination of the Attorney General's (PGR) discretionary
prosecutorial powers, which currently allows it to pick and
choose among organized crime cases it investigates or

MEXICO 00002928 002 OF 003


passes to other entities;

--Encouragement for participation in the National
Security Council by local governments from border states;

--Definition and establishment of penalties for crimes
related to child pornography and prostitution;

--A discussion of weapons trafficking and professional
training for local police;

--Establishment of a nationwide salary for local and
state police officials, particularly with the consideration
that there are areas in which police officials make under
1000 pesos a month.

5. PRI also continues to quibble with Calderon over the
proposed 2009 budget. PRI deputies have objected to both the
size and the distribution of the proposed budget increase
directed toward security measures (ref a). According to
Gamboa, the PRI is not rankled so much by the decision to
boost the security budget, but rather by the areas in which
the administration is making cuts in order to reapportion
them to security issues. Gamboa noted that the PRI is loathe
to see Calderon pull funds from agricultural and educational
programs while maintaining high levels of spending in
programs the PRI sees as most useful for PAN electioneering.

Who's on Board, Who's Ready to Fight
------------------------------------

6. PRI congressional contacts have suggested that they have
PRD support on several of its proposals. Gamboa implied that
PRD was amenable to much of the PRI's legislative package,
and Bernal's staffers also noted that the PRD was open to the
suggested changes to the PGR selection process. PRD
Secretary for International Relations Saul Escobar told
Poloff on September 30 that PRD has its own security package
in the works featuring an approach geared more toward social
issues rather than focusing exclusively on punishment. PRI
congressional contacts have reiterated the same theme in
various conversations with Poloff.

PAN Picking Its Battles
-----------------------

7. PAN Deputy Omeheira Lopez Reyna suggested PAN would need
to pick its battles in the legislative debates ahead on
security and the budget.

-- President Calderon had favored folding all local and state
police forces into one federal force but had retreated in the
face of apparent PRI threats to withdraw support for a
consensus energy reform bill. Instead, PAN would seek
Congressional backing for its long-discussed, more modest
proposal to complete the merging of Federal Investigative
Agency (AFI) officials into the Secretariat of Public
Security (SSP), resulting in one federal police force.

-- PAN planned to resist PRI efforts to convert PGR into a
more "autonomous" institution by acceding to the Senate the
President's present authority to nominate and remove the
Attorney General and federal prosecutors. Lopez conceded PRI
may enjoy PRD support on this issue but noted that the
government had successfully blocked the PRI's prior effort to
include this measure in the judicial reform bill adopted in
June and was prepared to fight this battle again as necessary.

-- Lopez stressed the importance Calderon attached to
dedicating more resources to security forces, particularly at
the federal level. PAN was less than impressed with the
efficacy of local efforts to face security threats and noted
that money had not spend down their current 2008 budgets. In
the face of PRI's desire to allocate more resources to local
forces, Lopez remarked that PAN would argue that funding for
state governments track with concrete performance indices.

-- Lopez indicated that PAN was prepared to push back PRI
efforts to curtail authorities PAN seeks to grant law
enforcement officials that would facilitate legal efforts to
seize the assets of criminal organizations. She thought that
PAN could count on PRD support on this measure and signaled

MEXICO 00002928 003 OF 003


PAN would also be prepared to make a strong case for this
with a general public short on sympathy about the "rights" of
organized criminals.

Comment
-------

8. PRI has opted to take advantage of what it sees as an
opportune moment to challenge Calderon on his security
approach. As the Mexican public clamors for more effective
anti-crime efforts, however, PRI will have to walk a fine
line in its efforts to score security points off Calderon if
its machinations in congress complicate, obstruct, or delay
the passage of key legislation. The Calderon administration
nevertheless may find itself increasingly tied up by a feisty
PRI legislative bloc looking to differentiate itself in the
runup to the 2009 elections while still burnishing its law
and order credentials.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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