Note DD; In September Colombian Gen. Oscar Naranjo, adviser to President Enrique Pena Nieto on security issues, warned that armed civilian groups are the gateway to the emergence of "para-states" or parallel state, and they usurp the powers attributed to the government.
During his presentation at the seminar on violence organized by the Colegio de Mexico, Naranjo made a strong critique of the emergence of these groups, and called it "unacceptable" that they are armed as if they were real cops, as the use of force is monopoly of the state.
When I posted the story significance of the story was not that he held such views, but that a high profile figure associated with security in the EPN administration was making his views known in such a public manner. I further commented that I hoped it was not a prelude to a govt. effort to eliminate or disband the citizen groups.
On the Forum on Sept. 17, (link provided below) I added a comment to the story that the Mexican military killed three vigilantes in a shootout that the military says was initiated when the citizen groups fired on the military.
I don't know the truth of what happened that day, but the very use of the word "vigilantes" in describing those killed carries a more negative connotation than the description "community police" or "self-defense" group.
The story mentions that concerns have arisen that the self-defense groups may be working with the cartels. It doesn't mention that the community groups have accused the military of protecting the cartels.
In the earlier article I expressed my concern that Naranjo's comments were a prelude to an effort to eliminate the citizen self-defense groups. I hope the killing of the these 3 "vigilantes" is not the beginning of that effort.
|Columbian General Oscar Naranjo, Security Advisor to EPN|
Mexico vows to stop vigilante expansion
|Attorney General Murillo Karam|
Morelia (Mexico) (AFP) - Mexican authorities warned Thursday that they would not allow vigilante "self-defense" groups to take over more towns in a western state where civilians are arming themselves to combat drug gangs.
Vigilantes are now providing security in six Michoacan state towns after self-defense forces seized the municipality of Tancitaro last weekend following clashes that left three people dead.
Self-defense leaders say they next plan to take over another town, Los Reyes, with about 40,000
residents, as part of their drive to chase the Knights Templar drug cartel out of the region.
But Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam insisted that the self-defense groups "will not spread. I assure you."
"The Mexican state will guarantee this," he told reporters in Mexico City.
Michoacan Governor Fausto Vallejo told AFP on Wednesday that state and federal authorities
would arrest the vigilantes if they try to seize more towns.
|Governor Fausto Vallejo|
Several vigilante groups have emerged in Michoacan and the neighboring state of Guerrero this year, saying that local police are either unable or unwilling to stop the murders, kidnappings and extortion committed by gangs.
Officials have accused some Michoacan vigilantes of working for another gang, the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, which is locked in turf wars with the Knights Templar.
The federal government deployed thousands of troops to Michoacan in May in a bid to stem the violence and ensure that businesses can operate safely again in a state that is a major producer of lime and avocado.
But violence has continued.
Murillo Karam said the number of bodies found in 16 clandestine graves recently at the border between the states of Jalisco and Michoacan had risen to 31.
The pits were found after authorities detained and interrogated 22 municipal police officers from Michoacan accused of handing over two federal police officers to the Jalisco cartel.
The federal agents were not found in the pits.
DD Note; If my concerns about the Mexican government moving toward disarming and disbanding the "self-defense" groups, it will be increasingly important to understand the distinctions between "self defense" groups and "community police". Many stories use the term "vigilantes" in describing the self-defense groups, but I don't think that is a fair representation.
The Mexican Constitution, in Articles 2, 27, and 39, guarantees certain rights of indigenous people to autonomy in self government. In my opinion, just the right of every human to defend himself also gives authority to what the self defense groups are doing. The fact that the citizens are joining together for security to do that doesn't change their right to self-defense.
Proceso magazine published the following article on the history and variations of self-defense groups and community police.
Mexico's Community Police and Self-defense Groups: History of Their Variations
Proceso: José Gil Olmos
translated by Thomas Mosley
Insecurity and attacks from organized crime since 1995 have caused various self-defense groups to emerge in at least a dozen states in several regions in the country, mainly in the south. Although they have the same origin, the community police are substantially different from the citizen self-defense groups that emerged earlier this year and have had a key role since then in the Tierra Caliente [Hot Country] of Michoacán.
Some have confused this phenomenon with the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia without considering their differing contexts, goals, and backgrounds. In that country these groups were created by politicians, soldiers, ranchers, business owners, and citizens to fight the guerrillas, but later they turned into another player within the drug trade business, even becoming terrorists and militiamen.
That has nothing to do with the community policing in Guerrero or the citizen self-defense groups of Michoacán, though some have accused the former of having ties to the guerrillas and the latter to the Jalisco Cartel.
The Community Police arose in the Montaña region of Guerrero in 1995, and over time it has grown and evolved, making way for the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC) of Montaña and Costa Chica [Little Coast, south of Acapulco] of Guerrero, which comprises its own system of security, justice, and a community reeducation program for criminals they detain.
According to their own account, "in the 80’s and early 90’s the great wave of violence that appeared on the roads of Montaña (now known as the Tlapa-Marquelia highway) and Costa Chica (San Luis Acatlán-Marquelia) in Guerrero drove some of the communities’ residents to join forces against it. At this time, organizations and production companies, mainly in the coffee industry, were also affected because they could not safely distribute their products and economic resources."
That is to say that the origin of the community police is in protecting themselves and their land. It is part of their [indigenous] conception of collective justice, self-organization, and even self-government. They don’t hide their faces, and they are chosen at assembly elections for merits such as honesty and respect for their community and family. The community maintains them, even though they receive support from their respective governments.
These same causes also gave rise to the Community Police of Cherán, Michoacan, and groups in other indigenous populations of the Purépecha plateau in 2011. That year, the indigenous communities of this area got organized, took up arms, and fought the illegal loggers who were backed by The Michoacán Family and Knights Templar cartels.
Earlier this year in towns of Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, citizen self-defense groups emerged to defend themselves against the Knights Templar that subdued them, taxing them on business and food consumption and exploiting them for their houses, cars, and even their women. In some ways, they are more urban groups with interests that are more personal than collective, though under the banner of safety they are brought together to defend themselves, their families, and their businesses.
Similar groups also emerged elsewhere in Michoacan, and in Morelos, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and another region of Guerrero where they are called the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (Upoeg), an organization led by Bruno Plácido Valerio, who was previously in the CRAC, but is now funded by the government of Angel Aguirre Rivero.
Other communities have expressed themselves with "community patrols" that have not yet reached the organization of community policing or citizen self-defense groups. But just like these groups, they are an expression of utter social dissatisfaction towards the inability of the government and the Mexican state to provide security where it is due.
The differences between these organizations are vast because they have different compositions, structures and objectives, but they all share the common goal of safety.
They are also drastically different from the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia, whose purpose was never community protection but counterinsurgency and, ultimately, terrorism and drug trafficking.