Mexican President Felipe Calderon named his fourth interior minister in as many years, appointing Jose Francisco Blake Mora to help lead the country’s security efforts amid a rising death-toll in the war on drug cartels.
Calderon also named Bruno Ferrari, who headed the investment promotion authority known as Promexico, to replace Gerardo Ruiz Mateos as economy minister. Ruiz Mateos will return to the president’s office to be chief of staff, a position he held before being named minister in 2008.
Last night’s Cabinet shakeup comes as Mexico’s drug-related violence has increased to the highest levels since Calderon took office in 2006 promising to confront the cartels fighting for cocaine and marijuana trafficking routes. In his remarks at the swearing-in ceremony, Blake said he would “strengthen democratic institutions” and seek greater coordination among political parties to confront the security situation.
“We’ll focus our attention on the challenge of public security and the fight against organized crime, in order to recover the peace of mind of the Mexican people,” he said.
More than 22,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug- related violence since the crackdown began, according to the U.S. State Department. Security decisions in Mexico are made by a commission headed by Calderon. In the president’s absence, the interior minister leads the commission, according to the country’s public security law.
The interior minister also manages negotiations between political parties. Calderon’s frequent shuffling of the interior minister post shows that he hasn’t been successful at persuading the opposition to help him pass legislation, said Jorge Chabat, a political science professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.
“If they haven’t been able to achieve important reforms in the first 3 1/2 years, they probably won’t be able to do so in the next two years,” Chabat said, referring to the remainder of Calderon’s term in office. “It’s been difficult for the Calderon government to achieve consensus.”
Blake replaces Fernando Gomez Mont, who was named to the post in November 2008, after former minister Juan Camilo Mourino died in a plane crash.
Congress has yet to pass labor legislation backed by Calderon’s government as well as a bill to make changes to Mexico’s political structure, including allowing re-election. The Senate has yet to approve antitrust legislation proposed by Calderon and passed by the lower house of Congress in April.
Blake, 44, was the secretary-general of Baja California state, a position that functions as second-in-command after the governor. He was a federal congressman between 2000 and 2003.
Blake, who is from the violence-plagued city of Tijuana, played a “fundamental” role in confronting organized crime in Baja California, said Calderon, who served as a lawmaker during the same period as Blake.
“This will be of great help in carrying out the fight against organized crime,” Calderon said.
Ferrari, 48, is a lawyer who earned his degree at the Mexico City-based Escuela Libre de Derecho. Patricia Flores will leave as Calderon’s chief of staff after almost two years in the position.