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Latino Daily News

Sunday September 23, 2012

Peña Nieto Appoints Colombian General to Direct LatAm Citizenship Institute

Peña Nieto Appoints Colombian General to Direct LatAm Citizenship Institute

Photo: Oscar Naranjo

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Retired Colombian Gen. Oscar Naranjo will combine his function as security adviser to Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto with that of director of the Latin American Citizenship Institute, which seeks to “wipe out the culture of illegality.”

While taking part in the inaugural ceremony of the institute at Monterrey Tech’s Santa Fe campus in Mexico City, the former chief of Colombia’s National Police said Friday that the new institution will be dedicated to “breaking with the old stereotypes that seek a better democracy simply by making demands on political leaders.”

“The truth is that the quality of a democracy is won by the strength of its citizenry, the enthusiasm of each citizen and the full awareness that we are all equal,” he said.

The general, who is also part of the team designated by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to negotiate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC guerrilla group, said that the institute, founded by Monterrey Tech, responds to an “obsession to work in a clean, crystal clear, transparent way to wipe out the culture of illegality.”

He said that his work as adviser to Peña Nieto is “external, non-operational and outside the lines of hierarchy,” while in the institute he will discharge an “internal” function to promote “processes that give citizens a new role in society from an integrating, humanistic and uniting vision of knowledge and best practices.”

In June, Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he had invited Naranjo to advise him on security matters if he won the July 1 election.

He said that Naranjo’s assistance in laying out his security strategy would come into play throughout the transition period and after he takes office next Dec. 1.

Peña Nieto finally won the July election and was declared president-elect by the TEPJF electoral tribunal in late August.

In July, Naranjo argued in Washington for Mexico’s “reinvention” of its response to drug trafficking and for giving citizens a greater voice.

The war on crime “is no longer a matter for police and judges alone,” but implies “democratic values” and “more working together by all levels of society,” Naranjo told a press conference at the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank.

More than 50,000 people, according to official figures, have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and declared war on the country’s powerful cartels.

Calderon deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The use of the armed forces, however, failed to stem the violence.

Monterrey Tech rector Salvador Alva Gomez said during the inauguration ceremony that one of the institute’s first actions will be to bring together, at the end of this month, 16 mayor-elects from the Monterrey metropolitan area to a weeklong workshop in Medellin, Colombia, “to learn the highly successful model of transformation that this city has applied.”

Monterrey Tech is a private institution of higher learning founded in 1943 in Monterrey in the northern state of Nuevo Leon and that today has a presence in every state of Mexico and in the nation’s capital.