By: Záyin Dáleth Villavicencio
(August 8 2013).- Aquila, Michoacán.- “For a free Michoacán, that should be our goal”, claimed members of the self defense group of Aquila, informing the next regionalization of armed civil movements, the self-styled community police.
The armed uprising in Michoacán against the Knights Templar cartel emerged simultaneously in the municipalities of Buenavista Tomatlán and Tepalcatepec since last February 24. Then followed by: Coalcomán, Aguililla, Aquila, Chinicuila and Coahuayana.
For the past couple of years, the seven municipalities that belong to the regions of Tierra Caliente and Costa, suffered harassment from organized crime charging of: quotas or to pay one’s dues, kidnappings and other abuses.
They charged fees to all 401 community members; $2,000 each, they kidnapped a boy and the families weren’t able to do anything because they would make them disappear.
Now “the goal is a broader self-defense movement,” said one of the five community commanders just before an inter-meeting was held between members of the self-defense groups of Aquila with representatives from Coalcomán and Chinicuila.
“We are communicating with the community guards of Chinicuila, Tepalcatepec and Coalcomán, we are trying to make this bigger because if we unite, it will be all over the state of Michoacán,” he anticipated.
On What Side Is The Mayor On?
Meanwhile, residents from the municipality of Aquila demanded that the mayor of the municipal, Juan Hernández Ramírez, to return to his activities since he hasn’t been to the municipality since last June, after the emergence of the movement “Por un Aquila Libre”.
“We are waiting for him to come and to tell us what side he’s on, on the people’s side or the criminals,” informed the members of the Community Police to the mayor, who they say is threatened by organized crime and pays two different criminal organizations a quota for the plaza.
Located in the Sierra-Costa region of Michoacán, the municipality of Aquila has been under guard for about two weeks. Groups of villagers with large caliber weapons, covered faces, and dressed in white shirts; look after each entrance, by highway and in the highlands.
A representation of more than 30 community police officers, gathered in front of an audience of the indigenous community of San Miguel de Aquila, said in an interview for REVOLUCIÓN TRES PUNTO CERO (Revolution 3.0) that the conformation of the self-defense group came after the community had been required to provide a monthly quota of $700,000 to organized crime for over the past two years.
“We organized ourselves because we want there to be freedom and justice that we haven’t been given. They’ve been robbing us for a long time, but we decided to arm ourselves because no one would help us and we don’t know what happened to the government,” said the leader of the community.
On the past July 24th, about a hundred villagers took the command in San Miguel de Aquila, but not before apprehending the municipal police, whom they accuse of direct links to organized crime.
“We knew that the police were in collusion with organized crime. Some days we would see them dressed up as police and other days as hitmen. And even though the City Hall was never taken over, the mayor left,” said one of the communal authorities.
However, since June, the movement began taking shape and took control of the county seat, in accordance with the community assembly, as is still done through customs and traditions in San Miguel de Aquila.
After noting that for a month, the mayor hadn’t dispatched at the City Hall, they warned: “We are waiting for the mayor, to come because his municipal president is free. We didn’t run him out but we believe that he was being threatened”.
We Are Villagers Seeking Justice
Meeting in the hearing of the population, a hundred people accompanied by women and children, claimed that the white shirt with the words “Por un Aquila Libre” (For a Free Aquila), worn by the men of the community, is a credential “because we are not just a group of masked men, but community members who seek justice”.
More than a month after the formation of the self-defense group, the achievements for the community are: not paying anymore quotas to organized crime “and that families feel safe”. Because we pay about $2,000 per villager and since we organized there is no more kidnapping and no more quotas.
One of the Community Police leaders said, “It began here in the community of Aquila, with 10 men who were trusted people, but today we are about 250 armed men determined to defend the community.” “However, the goal is a broader self-defense movement that also includes communities in the municipal,” said one of the five commanders of Aquila.
The Feds “Got Tired and Left”
In this context, they said, the federal government was the only one to answer their call, by sending in 150 elements of the Federal Police (PF) to support the safety of the population, but after a while “they got tired and left”
They sent a message to the state government: “We invite [the governor Jesus Reyna] to support the movement of Aquila, we are waiting. We are a poor family and we know how to respect, so come talk to us. To the Federal Government [we give them] thanks because they support us now. To the other communities who are now organizing [we say] that we are prepared to support them.
To the society, we want to tell them that we are people, that we are communities and not part of organized crime. We want to let them know that we are not 10 or 30 people, we are the entire community and its people who support us, because here we all seek justice and to live in peace.”
They also warned that the rise of armed civilian groups is not because of a division between communities, much less the influence with the mining company Ternium, but a movement for safety and against organized crime.
In the municipal seat life goes by peacefully, the shops are open and the people say it’s peaceful. However they say that a few months ago, few people began going out because organized crime had taken over the municipal: “They were the law, they told the people what to do and even scolded them. Everyone was afraid.”
Today, armed men walk by the town normally, some with sandals, bandanas or open faced, all in uniform consisting of a white shirt that says “Por un Aquila Libre”.
Source: Revolución 3.0