MEXICO CITY (AP) – Javier Jiménez Espriú resigned as Mexico’s secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT) due to differences with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s decision to put the military in charge of the country’s ports, announced Thursday the mandatary.
López Obrador announced the resignation in an unusual video uploaded to his social networks recorded with Jiménez Espriú and the person in charge of replacing him, the engineer Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal, who already worked with him when he was head of government in Mexico City.
Last Friday, the president announced that land and maritime customs as well as the ports of Mexico would pass into the hands of the army and the navy to rescue them from corruption, that there be security and that the introduction of drugs and weapons be avoided.
“We had a dispute that only occurs between free men and with criteria about the operation of the ports,” said López Obrador.
Jiménez Espriú argued that they should be operated by the SCT, but the president decided that it should be the Navy that manages them, a department that, in his opinion, “is going to bring order”.
Specifically, he mentioned his concern about the entry of fentanyl through the Pacific ports and the violence that the drug transfer entails.
“I believe that due to the current circumstances, due to the corruption that prevails in ports, customs, and lately also due to the entry of contraband and drugs through ports, we need, in addition to good administration, security,” he said.
The decision to “rescue customs” means giving new functions to the armed forces, which, since López Obrador came to power, accumulate more and more tasks, from the construction of large infrastructures, to the cultivation of trees.
The SCT had been a major focus of allegations of corruption during the Enrique Peña Nieto government (2012-2018), but Jímenez Espriú said that it should be handed over without that burden. He added that he remains committed to the transformation led by the president.
The former ex-secretary supported, for example, that the construction of the Mexico City airport designed during the previous administration be canceled and that the current project be started at the Santa Lucía military base.
Since December 2018, when the president came to power, there have been several changes in his cabinet.
The most notable resignation took place in July 2019, when Carlos Urzúa left his post as Secretary of the Treasury, considering the appointment of unskilled officials imposed by “influential figures” and by public policy decisions that were made “without the” unacceptable ” enough sustenance ”. He also criticized the government-initiated austerity policy.
A month earlier, in June, Tonatiuh Guillén, the first head of the National Institute of Migration, had resigned, in the midst of a migration crisis with the United States and when Mexico agreed to toughen its immigration policy to avoid imposing tariffs. At that time, the López Obrador government had begun not only the deployment of the National Guard to contain migrants, but the replacement of several local INM chiefs with active or retired military personnel.
Previously, the then Secretary of the Environment Josefa González Blanco and the person in charge of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), the main public health system in Mexico, Germán Martínez, had left their posts.
This year, the head of the body in charge of fighting discrimination and the head of victim care resigned, resignations that the president attributed to a lack of commitment to the transformation he leads.