Announcing his decision during a regular news conference, Lopez Obrador said he did not yet know whether Rodriguez would accept the post, because she was still recovering from COVID-19.
She faces a daunting task, with homicides reaching record levels on Lopez Obrador’s watch in spite of his pledge when he took office in December 2018 to reduce violence.
Benitez said he hoped Rodriguez would be less prone to trying to put a positive spin on crime statistics, and believed that having a woman in charge could give her more clout in tackling rising femicides, or gender-based murders of women.
Outgoing minister Durazo is stepping down to run for the governorship of the northern state of Sonora in 2021.
Rodriguez’s nomination comes just a few days after a scandal engulfed the armed forces with the arrest in Los Angeles of former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos on drugs charges.
Putting Rodriguez in charge of security should act as useful check on the military, which had threatened to accumulate more and more power until Cienfuegos’ arrest, security expert Benitez said.
How she fared would depend heavily on her relations with intelligence chiefs and the National Guard, the militarized police force Lopez Obrador created to tackle the cartels, he added. (Reporting by Dave Graham; writing by Laura Gottesdiener; editing by Jonathan Oatis)