MEXICO CITY – A group of women known as “The Gazelles” served as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s security detail when he was Mexico City’s mayor and they may protect him once again after he is sworn in as president on Dec. 1.
Lopez Obrador is expected to do away with Mexico’s elite presidential guard, which is why “The Gazelles” could help provide security for the new president, although the former leader of the group said that additional protection would be needed.
Lopez Obrador “has never liked” being surrounded by bodyguards, Polimnia Romana, the former head of “The Gazelles,” told EFE.
“He has always liked being close to the people ... Having a security detail made up of men was too aggressive, since citizens felt intimidated,” she said.
That is why Lopez Obrador, soon after being sworn in as Mexico City mayor, entrusted her with the task of forming a security team made up exclusively of women, so that people could continue to approach him “without fear of being hurt or pushed aside.”
“The Gazelles” began their mission in 2003 and were responsible for Lopez Obrador’s security until 2005, when he ended his term as mayor.
The women were trained in the Institute of Professional Formation, which is part of Mexico City’s judicial police, and took a specialized course in executive protection.
According to Romana, however, after Lopez Obrador is sworn in as president he will need “a much more specialized” security detail.
“The Gazelles did receive training, but mainly as judicial police officers, not as personal security guards. We were not trained to protect the president of Mexico,” she said.
Lopez Obrador’s decision to do away with the presidential guard has been criticized by people close to the next president, including by Romana, who said “not having a specialized and highly trained security detail” was “a mistake.”
According to Romana, if Lopez Obrador achieves his goal of fighting corruption, “he will step on a lot of toes and many powerful people will not be happy.”
“I think that his mindset continues to be in candidate mode and that worries me. He needs to leave the campaign behind and start assuming the role of supreme head of Mexico’s armed forces,” she said.