Minister of Public Safety José Raúl Mulino said today that he has no intentions of returning the country to a military dictatorship and defended the decisions he has made in recent weeks that have generated criticism.
"I'm a civilian who, by law, is in charge of the security forces," he said. "It is absurd thinking that a civilian would try to become a military strongman, breaking the constitutional order and establishing regimes which are not democratically elected officials."
Questions have been raised about the decision to merge the Customs and Immigration departments into a single entity under Mulino's control, which some have said is similar to a pattern established under the military regime.
The move caused Customs Director Gloria Moreno de López to resign in protest.
Mulino said that he respected the decision of the director, but said that the move was not an initiative of the ministry, but rather an executive decision that arose after conversations with U.S. officials.
"I am not imposing anything," said Mulino. "I am a man of character. I am the minister of Security of this country. I respect the nation's security."