The classic depiction of American embassies in movies with heavily armed Marines at every gate is irrelevant to the vast majority of diplomatic missions in the world. Embassies often prefer to entrust their security to private agents, who understand the atmosphere a diplomatic mission wants to convey to its citizens and other visitors.

Here, we analyze the requirements asked of these security agents and what skills they must possess to hold a position which is far more subtle than it may appear.

In Mexico, Grupo Irena personnel currently protect the embassies of several European countries, such as France and the Netherlands, as well as the European Union.

Instead, guarding an embassy is a multi-faceted role, presenting challenges the public may not be aware of. Agents are a first line of defense, screening access to embassy or consulate grounds. These missions are considered part of the sovereign territory of the nation they represent, making this job very sensitive.

Needed skillset

They must be familiar with common consular services (passports, visas, birth certificates, etc) and know where to direct visitors within the embassy. They are trained to aid in the evacuation of the embassy in case of a threat such as earthquakes. In extremely rare occasions, a person may even approach the embassy to request political asylum, and agents must know how to handle this situation.

Consulates also provide crucial help for their citizens and aim to be seen as welcoming, as providing a touch of home when far away. As such, our personnel is trained to be courteous and friendly while maintaining a professional demeanor.


  • Screen visitors and guiding them within the embassy

  • Entrusted with checking ID documents

  • Direct visitors within embassy based on their need

  • Help evacuate embassy in case of natural disaster or security risk

  • Provide reassuring presence to diplomats and staff

However, Grupo Irena’s mission extends beyond the daily work of embassies and consulates. France maintains a vigorous cultural presence abroad, through worldwide institutions such as l’Alliance Francaise and local structures (Casa de Francia).

In Mexico City, the former embassy building is a beautiful turn of the century compound which is perfect to provide a haven of French culture. Acting as a library, an exhibition space and more, the Casa de Francia receives a constant stream of cultural aficionados from Mexico, France and beyond.

Naturally, such spaces are very welcoming to the public, similar to museums or libraries. However, Casa de Francia remains an embassy space. In this context, Grupo Irena staff maintain optimal security levels and strict protocols (ID check, metal detector, bag check) while also being discrete and accessible.

Grupo Irena is proud to have been tasked with these sensitive missions, helping European communities in Mexico to feel safe.


The emotion of moving to Mexico can hit executives and their families at different moments. But when does it hit? When waiting to board the plane, as the wheels hit the runway, walking into a new home, the first day at the office?

What may matter more than this is what form this emotion takes. The expat who is on their third or fourth assignment may be quietly confident of their ability to surmount any risks. The newcomer fresh out of business school may be naïve, aware of the dangers but believing they will never happen to them. Those coming with families may be genuinely nervous or even scared, ready to see risks on every street corner.

All of these are perfectly understandable reactions but it does mean that everybody can stand to learn something. This is why Grupo Irena’s risk awareness training sessions cater to all of these equally.

What risks do you cover?

When arriving in Mexico, many executives do not have the right tools. While you can certainly live comfortably in this country, there is a security problem. However, drug wars and police shootouts should not be a major concern. Instead, this workshop presents the daily risks that may become a concern: robbery, theft, phone extortions, or even kidnapping.

What is extortion and how does it work?

What is organized crime and how does this affect you?

What is the reality in Mexico today in terms of risk?

How should you protect yourself, at home, in the street, in your car?

How do I protect my personal data and information?

What do I do in case of extortion, a break-in, kidnapping, or even being caught in a shootout?

How do I maintain efficient working relations with the police so as to count on them in times of trouble?

Some may feel that these workshops are only for foreign staff but Grupo Irena has found that Mexican employees may benefit even more.

These workshops do not exist to frighten our clients, or show them gory images. Nor are they there to focus on personal security alone. To feel safe, one must understand the context one is living in.

The risk awareness training workshops present a realistic, proven evaluation of the Mexican security situation. Beyond the scenarios outlined above, we delve into the root cause of violence, such as corruption and impunity. We break down the economic and social factors contributing to crime. Most importantly, our workshops are not static.

1. They can be modified to consider the local crime factors wherever our clients are located (Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, etc.)
2. They are carried out for key staff, such as boards of directors, putting across necessary, practical information for these members.
3. The workshops can be delivered in online versions, built in consultation with clients, for the convenience of travelling staff. This is also handy for expat staff before they are deployed on a mission abroad.
4. The workshops can have a narrower scope, such as a specific project or remote site, to be delivered to teams of engineers, for example
5. Refresher courses are usually advised 12 or 24 months after each workshop.


If you live in Mexico City and take the subway regularly, we will focus on the specific risks of the city’s Metro system. The daily threats tend to be pickpocketing and sexual harassment for female passengers. However, beyond that, you should be familiar with the route you are taking, including which subway entrance and exit you need to take. Mexican subway stations can be complicated with a number of different exits. Getting out at the wrong station or taking the wrong exit may lead to a high risk of attack, especially if you look lost.

Do you teach your clients to defend themselves?

This is not a self-defense class. We teach participants how to be aware, how to minimize the risk of being targeted and what to do in case something bad happens.

Take a phone extortion, the most common crime our clients are likely to face. Our primary recommendation is always to simply hang up the phone. Someone who has not been trained may be more likely to believe the lies being fed to them than someone who has.

Home Burglary

An increasingly common crime in Mexico is home burglary, not by breaking and entering, but by people who knock on your door, wearing a uniform and with a credible story. One of our clients was recently alone at home when a man arrived, claiming to be from the gas company. His story was that a gas leak had been detected in the apartment complex and that the owner of the house needed to wait outside while their home was verified. The client complied and 20 minutes later, a laptop, jewelry and other electronics had been taken, hidden in the thief’s bag as he walked out. From the comfort of your own home, you may tell yourself you would never be so easy to fool. But taken off guard by a convincing thief, anybody may be fooled.

Our training would focus on the need to ask for secondary verification, to call the company the person claims to work for. Even then, if there is any lingering doubt, shut the door. If the person does enter, an eye must be kept on them at all times. The training also covers how to include a cleaner or nanny in this training, as they make appealing targets as well.

Finally, an important part of this training is the role-playing. By placing participants in the role of criminals and asking them how they would plan an attack, we help them realize the opportunities they create in everyday situations. By focusing on body language and posture, by being aware of how bags or other belongings are being carried, or when and where to check your phone, we help our clients identify the risks when on the street.


Should you or your company be interested in one of our risk awareness training sessions (offered in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), please contact Grupo Irena at or +52 55 5207 3149.