MEXICO CITY – Hundreds of Mexican Federal Police officers demonstrated Wednesday in Mexico City against the National Guard, a new security force recently created by the administration.
The protest is taking place at the Federal Police Command Center in the Iztapalapa district in eastern Mexico City.
Pushing and shoving, some over-excited or impassioned officers hurled bottles and all sorts of other objects at the building and at a group of soldiers deployed to try and keep things under control and calm things down.
According to local media reports, among the Federal Police officers who were attacked by the protesters – their fellow officers – was police chief Patricia Trujillo, who was beaten and called a “traitor” by shouting demonstrators.
“We’re here for dialogue,” a top National Guard officer told the media with difficulty as Trujillo was being escorted by police officers.
After a few chaotic minutes, Trujillo was able to speak with the protesting officers and said that she was there “for dialogue” to listen to “male and female comrades” on the force.
“I’ve been all over the Mexican republic. I’ve listened to my comrades. I need five representatives to speak (with me), please. My mission is to listen to them. I need you to name five comrades to be able to speak,” she said, at first without any apparent success.
The protesting police officers are demanding that, if they have to incorporate themselves into the Guard – comprised of soldiers, police and marines – a monthly bonus they currently enjoy could potentially disappear.
They also said that with the installation of the new administration headed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, their labor rights have been curtailed.
They will not cease their protests, they say, until federal Security and Citizen Protection Secretary Alfonso Durazo meets with them.
Lopez Obrador said in his morning press conference on Wednesday that “nobody’s going to be fired” from the Federal Police and that the officers’ incorporation into the National Guard is not obligatory.
“They’re going to keep the same salary and benefits,” he said, later emphasizing that incorporation into the Guard “is voluntary.”
“If they meet the requirements they can belong to the National Guard, and if not they’re not going to be fired in any case because there are other tasks that are going to be undertaken” and to which they will be assigned, he said.
The National Guard, the new security force that the Mexican government wants to deal with the serious problem of lack of security, formally began its operations on June 30 despite the fact that thousands of its members had already been performing migration control tasks for several days.
A total of 70,000 National Guard officers are being deployed nationwide and the plan is to gradually increase that total to 150,000.
On Wednesday, military and civilian authorities officially inaugurated the National Guard in the southern state of Guerrero, one of the country’s most violent regions, as well as in other regions like Jalisco.
In Guerrero, 3,400 Guard officers will be deployed at first and they have already started being transferred to the cities of Chilpancingo, Tlapa, Ciudad Altamirano and Ayutla.