Mexico City – President Felipe Calderon named intelligence agency chief Alejandro Poire as Mexico's new interior secretary, a post left vacant when Francisco Blake died a week ago in a helicopter crash.
"His deep knowledge of and vast experience in security matters were the determining factors for me in the difficult decision I carefully pondered after the regrettable death of Secretary Blake," Calderon said Thursday in a press conference.
"Knowledge of and experience in security matters, which in this case are solidly accompanied by knowledge of and experience in political, electoral and immigration matters," Calderon said, describing the 40-year-old Poire as a "scholar dedicated to the study of democracy and the Mexican political system."
The president made the announcement six days after Blake and seven other people - including his top aide, Felipe Zamora Castro - died when their helicopter went down outside Mexico City.
Poire becomes the fifth interior secretary to serve under Calderon after Francisco Ramirez Acuña, Juan Camilo Mouriño, Fernando Gomez Mont and Blake.
Mouriño also died in an aviation accident.
After being sworn in, Poire pledged to fulfill all of his obligations as the nation's top domestic security official and alluded to the general unease over the nation's drug war.
"I know my arrival comes amid a climate of distress and confusion for many Mexicans. I'll make my best effort to emulate the example of commitment, national vision and daily effort set by my predecessors and in that way permanently honor their memory," he said.
Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico's heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of troops to drug-war flashpoints.
The strategy has led to headline-grabbing captures of cartel kingpins, but drug-related violence has skyrocketed and claimed nearly 50,000 lives nationwide over the five-year period
The president's decision to give the military a law-enforcement role also has been criticized by international rights groups, which say it has led to widespread abuse, including torture and extrajudicial executions.
Prior to this latest appointment, the Harvard-educated Poire had been serving as head of the National Security Council.
His other previous positions have included advisor at the Inegi statistics agency, director of political analysis at the president's office, head of Calderon's security Cabinet and federal security spokesman.