Mexico names intelligence chief to interior post

November 17, 2011 - 10:50 PM
Mexico Cabinet

Mexico's new Interior Minister Alejandro Poire, left, speaks during his swearing-in ceremony, as Mexico's President Felipe Calderon looks at him in Mexico City, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Poire, chief of Mexico's intelligence agency, replaces Francisco Blake Mora, who died in a Nov. 11 helicopter crash on the outskirts of Mexico City. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Felipe Calderon named the chief of Mexico's intelligence agency on Thursday to be the new interior secretary, the country's top domestic security post.

Calderon picked Harvard-educated Alejandro Poire, the president's former security spokesman and current head of the national security agency, to replace Francisco Blake Mora, who died in a Nov. 11 helicopter crash on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Calderon said he chose Poire because of his deep knowledge of security issues and politics.

Poire will oversee the offensive against drug cartels as well as Mexico's national elections July 1. Calderon said Poire's job will be to ensure the elections are held "in a climate of peace, respect and complete legality."

The interior secretary in Mexico also acts as the president's chief negotiator with Congress and the political parties. Calderon said he will be pushing reforms for Mexico's legal framework and security laws, including proposals to formalize the role of the Mexican military in law enforcement tasks.

Poire pledged to listen to all opinions.

"I will strive to serve this administration and my country by working through dialogue, always recognizing and valuing different opinions, and seeking in this way to make progress on agreements and reforms, to contribute to harmony in our country," Poire said upon being sworn in during a televised ceremony.

Poire was at the national security agency for only about two months. Before that, he served for a little over a year as the administration's chief spokesman on the offensive against drug cartels, a battle that has cost between 35,000 and 40,000 lives since Calderon took office in late 2006.

Ironically, the drug war's toll is not clear in part because Poire had refused to release an official count of the dead since last January — when he released with much fanfare a report listing 34,600 deaths through late 2010. Many other groups, including Mexican news media, now place the figure at well over 40,000.

Poire, who holds a doctorate in political science from Harvard, has held academic posts and worked at the country's Federal Electoral Institute from 2003 to 2005.