Mexican Secretary of the Interior Alfonso Navarrete admitted that an agent from the Center for Research and National Security (CISEN) had been tailing Ricardo Anaya, an opposition presidential candidate. The federal intelligence agency came clean a day after Anaya posted a video to social media showing him personally confronting the agent.
Anaya is the presidential candidate for the National Action Party (PAN) and the former Secretary of Tourism. Anaya confronted the man following him while campaigning in the state of Veracruz and got him to admit on camera to being a CISEN employee. The video was posted to Twitter with a comment from Anaya saying, “Instead of pursuing criminals, they’re spying on opponents. This is what they’re spending state money on. That’s why we are the way we are.”
Navarrete, a member of the ruling Industrial Revolutionary Party (PRI), denied that CISEN had been spying on Anaya and claimed that the agent had been following Anaya legally as a security guard. He also said that CISEN believed Anaya had been made aware of the tail because they had notified the governor of Veracruz, who is also a member of PAN. Anaya’s campaign has denied that they had any knowledge of the operation.
CISEN has already suspended one official as a result of the incident and has placed all agents involved in the operation under review for potential wrongdoing. However, many critics argue that these actions are not sufficient.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, leader of the MORENA opposition party and currently the leading presidential candidate, has claimed that CISEN agents have also followed him. He has pledged to abolish the agency if elected.
Alejandro Hope, a columnist for the newspaper El Universal and former CISEN employee, has called for changes to the National Security Law, which governs CISEN’s activities, rather than outright abolishment. Hope argues that the law defines CISEN’s role too broadly and does not provide sufficient oversight of the agency’s activities.
Others have criticized the operation as a waste of resources and have argued that CISEN should focus more on combating the country’s drug cartels rather than following politicians.
Already trailing in third place, PRI candidate José Antonio Meade is likely to suffer as a result of this incident. Opponents of PRI argue that this event is evidence of the rampant corruption of the party and of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.