REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Thursday appointed his intelligence chief to replace Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora, who was killed in a helicopter crash last week.
Alejandro Poire steps into the second-most powerful position in the Mexican government. He served as spokesman for Calderon’s anticrime strategy before taking over two months ago as head of the intelligence agency, known as CISEN.
Poire, a Harvard-trained political scientist, inherits sprawling duties, including overseeing domestic security and serving as the government’s top negotiator with Congress, labor unions and political and religious groups.
Blake and seven others died Friday when the Eurocopter Super Puma carrying them crashed in fog outside Mexico City en route to a meeting in the city of Cuernavaca. An official investigation is still underway, but officials have all but ruled the crash a weather-related accident.
Poire was often called on to defend the president’s war on drug cartels to an increasingly skeptical nation as the death toll from drug violence -- most of it from fighting among rival gangs -- soared to more than 40,000 since 2006.
Though Poire is well regarded, many saw his explanations as too cerebral to calm a jittery nation. As interior minister, Blake, a former lawyer and government secretary in Baja California, also was a leading spokesman for the drug war strategy.
-- Ken Ellingwood
Photo: Mexican President Felipe Calderon listens to newly appointed Interior Minister Alejandro Poire speak in Mexico City on Thursday. Poire replaces Francisco Blake Mora, who was killed in a helicopter crash last week. Credit: Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images