Mexico's Government Rents Bodyguards to Officials Amid Violence

By Adriana Lopez Caraveo and Jens Erik Gould
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Wednesday, July 14, 2010; 12:00 AM

Public servants can pay a daily fee for protection ranging from 1,365 pesos to 2,620 pesos ($107 to $206) depending on the bodyguard's skill level and the type of arms and vehicles used, according to a decree from Public Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna published in the government's official gazette yesterday. The service, which provides bodyguards trained by the ministry, is only available to government workers.

The state will continue to provide bodyguards for top officials free of charge. Last year, the Public Security Ministry began offering federal lawmakers and court workers the option to pay for additional protection of their facilities.

Officials are expanding the types of protection available for government workers after the June 28 killing of Rodolfo Torre Cantu, a candidate for governor in the border state of Tamaulipas. It marked an escalation of Mexico's drug-fueled violence and represented the highest-level political assassination since presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was killed in March 1994.

Mexico has turned increasingly violent since Calderon came to office in December 2006 vowing to fight traffickers. More than 22,000 people have been killed in Mexico in violence related to organized crime since Calderon came to power, according to the U.S. State Department.

© 2010