This is the fourth of twelve biographies of defenders of the security system and indigenous justice system of the state of Guerrero; 12 posts put in the “12 Days in Defense of Our Lives and Freedom” campaign. Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 4: Eleuterio García Carmen. Director of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities- Community Police (CRAC-PC) of the House of Justice of El Paraíso.
Eleuterio, a Na Savi youth, has two sons and a daughter who are studying; he, however, now sleeps in a prison far away from them.
In the Montaña Alta and part of the Costa Chica region, the CRAC-PC originated within the society of the indigenous people. Despite the endemic violence and death trail that extends throughout the state, the people and communities continue to stand, resist, and are looking for ways to defend themselves against organized crime; how to compel the authorities in fulfilling their responsibilities. The indigenous people and farmers have appealed to their community organization to effectively defend their territories. They know that the best way to ensure their collective rights is to exercise control over their heritage, by implementing a system of monitoring and defending their territory. Their motto is only the people can defend the people.
The judicial system and security of indigenous people, who the villages of the Costa-Montaña region have introduced, is anchored to a system of territories, of self-governments, of its own world views, which demands that the authorities of the state respect and recognize their state institutions, their rights, and of their own jurisdiction. It is a system that has a long history and a prolonged memory, established with a lot of suffering and also with a lot of resistance. It’s a system that challenges the design of the state judicial system and challenges their actions, their intolerance, the inaccessibility, their discrimination, their ineffectiveness, and their corrupt practices. The CRAC, which is the agency formally recognized by the Regional Assembly as the representative body of the Community Police, is the public face of the indigenous authorities of the Costa-Montaña region who have the popular mandate in administering justice within the community system.
They acquire the reputation and respect to the extent that they comply with what the Assembly instructs them, and that they are faithful and strong defenders of the community laws. Their biggest challenges are in: ensuring security to the communities, caring for the collective heritage, resolving conflicts peacefully, wisely administering justice, reeducating people who commit crimes, and preventing criminal activities that endanger the peace within communities.
This is how the communities of the region of Ayutla understood and adopted it; in November 2012 they were formally presented as members of the CRAC-PC, and the House of Justice of El Paraíso was founded. It was during this context in which Eleuterio decided to be part of the Community Police.
Eleuterio, 30, is a Na Savi indigenous. He was appointed as Director of the Community Police of the House of Justice of El Paraíso, municipality of Ayutla de Los Libres, in the assembly of November 18, 2012.
Eleuterio is from the community of El Paraíso, where he studied until fifth grade, when he had to leave his studies due to a lack of opportunities; he had to devote his full time to work in the field, alongside his father Juan Teodoro and his mother Arnulfa. Eleuterio, like many other indigenous people of the region, had to go to work in other places; like other Na Savi youths from the area, he migrated to the fields of Altamirano from 2009 to 2012.
Eleuterio was arrested during the operations of August 21 in the community of El Paraíso, municipality of Ayutla de los Libres, during where they arrested 12 members of the Community Police of the House of Justice of El Paraíso. He finds himself deprived of liberty in the prison of Acapulco, accused of kidnapping, in the criminal case 191/2013 to be heard in the 4th Court of First Criminal Instance of the Judicial District of Tabares (Juzgado 4º de Primera Instancia del Ramo Penal del Distrito Judicial de Tabares), located in Acapulco, Guerrero. This information should not be overlooked: the Na Savi youth who decided to serve his community when insecurity loomed over it and who never benefited financially from the great responsibility he had in his community; he is charged the same way in which the most dangerous criminals are charged.
The arrests made during the large scale operations, in which Eleuterio and his comrades were arrested in, contrast with the negligence of the authorities responsible for providing security to the communities. The growth of this system is a reality that required the authorities to respect and see it as part of civic institutions that are contributing to the democratization of the police system. It’s like a call to purge and transform the security forces so that they can contain the crisis and take down (in a joint manner) the criminal onslaught. But up to this point in time, the State Attorney only reacts to these desperate calls, made by the police, with a reduced viewpoint of the Penal Code; a code which, incidentally, is never applied with the same rigor for all in Guerrero.
Eleuterio is not a kidnapper. He sought to organize himself with the community in order to respond to the security, as many other honest citizens of other municipalities do, including the capital. The enormity of the accusation he faces is evident. While accepting that the community justice generates debates; today, we should ask ourselves if maximum security prisons and allegations of serious crimes such as kidnapping is a just fate for young parents such as Eleuterio. To say that he has benefited from his position as a police officer would be laughable if it were not tragic: given the persistence of poverty in the Montaña region, leaving his duty Eleuterio would migrate back to Altamirano, to continue to work in the fields in order to combat hunger. It’s time to ask whether it’s reasonable for a community leader, such as Arturo Campos, a comrade of Eleuterio, to today find himself in a maximum security prison with the most dangerous drug lords in the country. Is that justice?
If this brave community police officer did commit an offence, it is certainly not the same as the ones being committed by organized crime, who dedicate themselves in kidnappings to meet their despicable economic ambitions; we are dealing with distinguishable phenomena, among them, from the severity, premeditation, and systematicity. By not seeing it how it is, like how the justice of Guerrero does, is using the law and imprisonment against those who, sometimes in desperate times but always honestly, decide not to tolerate the insecurity that is endemic in the state.
Eleuterio should not be away from his children. There is still time to amend this injustice.