|The Accused (Mora) and the Accuser (el Americano Simon)|
At a [Thursday] night press conference, Prosecutor Martín Godoy Castro confirmed that criminal action was brought against Hipólito Mora on charges of the "qualified murder of two people."
Prosecutor Godoy Castro also said that another 35 complaints are being integrated against Mora Chávez on charges of plunder, illegal imprisonment, threats, and burglary and violation of domicile.
Eduardo Quintero, attorney for Hipólito Mora, In an interview with Radio Fórmula, Quintero said:
"No one would doubt that Hipólito Mora was indicted due to the political situation."
In a separate interview with MVS News, the lawyer maintained that there is no evidence showing the co-participation of Mora in the double homicide. His client, he added, was asked to point out the murderers, but he does not know who they are. Quintero added that since the alleged perpetrators have not been detained, there is no one to make statements against Hipólito Mora.
If the community leader is accused of killing in partnership, Quintero explained,
"what must be understood is that Hipólito Mora allegedly ordered the death of El Pollo and El Nino, but strong evidence would have to be [in the form of] statements by the perpetrators, who might say that they received the order from Hipólito, but since the perpetrators are unknown, there is no solid evidence."
Documentary Filmmaker Comments
Mario Mandujano, documentary filmmaker and founder of the production house From Horns to the Abyss, is making a documentary titled "The Law of the Hill" [La Ley del Monte] about the Michoacán self-defense movement. For Mandujano, Hipólito Mora's capture goes further:
“ [Mora] became a representative figure of the self-defense movement that emerged in La Ruana in February of 2013; with the passage of time, he become someone "inconvenient" for a group of criminals led by Simón The Americano, who were Templars and then become self-defense troops
Based on the testimonies of Michoacán residents, including Padre Goyo [Gregorio López, Cathedral of Apatzingán] and his insight as a documentary filmmaker, Mandujano has concluded that, in their quest to "recover the plaza [i.e., recover territory lost to self-defense forces]," the group led by Simón El Americano sought to expel Hipólito Mora with the government's voluntary or involuntary support.
For the government in general, Mandujano added, the self-defense groups are embarrassing. With Mora's arrest, the government is seeking "a way out":
"What I see in the general big picture, they [Mora's self-defense group] were the only ones who obstructed the path, that they have the capacity to prevent crime from rearranging itself in La Ruana .
DR. MILELES COMMENTS
Now back home again, Mireles boasts of the groups’ achievements. The movement has pushed the “Templarios” out of more than 30 municipalities, he claims, and aims to free the entire state of Michoacan from the presence of the criminal group.
|YA BASTA (Enough)|
"In the past year, we have learned a great deal,” Mireles said. “Most importantly, we learned that we have a weapon more powerful than the cartel’s guns – a community.”
La Ruana and Tepalcatepec are picturesque villages. It’s hard to imagine their people have endured so many atrocities.
On Feb. 24, residents prepared to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the uprising. Mariachis, barbecue and beer had been brought in for the big party. A parade with hundreds of people wearing t-shirts that read “Self-Defense Groups for a Free Tepalcatepec” kicked off the activities.
“A year ago Tepalcatepec was a living hell, a ghost town where you couldn’t even walk around,” Mireles observed. “This is a great achievement because they said our movement wouldn’t last 24 hours, yet here we are today.”
Early last year, the government sought to take control of the situation by disarming the self-defense groups, inciting unrest that resulted in several arrests and a fatality and nearly prompted a major confrontation between the self defense groups and the Army. The official strategy shifted and the government made a pact with some of the self-defense groups. They agreed to register all weapons and legalize some members of the self-defense groups.
However, there were critics, including Buenavista native Luis Antonio Torres Gonzales, aka “El Americano”. “The government is trying to establish us as rural police troops, but we rejected being placed under the government’s authority. We refuse to stand around and let people continue to get killed,” said “El Americano.”
The government stratgy involves keeping a presence of Army and Federal Police troops while engaging in negotiations with individual self-defense leaders. The federal government recently promised an injection of 45 billion pesos for development projects in Michoacan.
Mora before his arrest said, “We’re hoping to take advantage of the government support to revive the economy,” Mora explained. “The dream we’re now embracing is to generate sources of employment.” He believes the government should work alongside the self-defense groups, because the locals are the ones who can identify the criminals in each village. Mora denied rumors of division within the organization, but admitted there are differences. He says the priority should be to strengthen the self-defense groups, suggesting that the government and the public working together can rid them of infiltrators.
Both Mora and Mireles were asked if they would accept a government post if it were offered. “I would accept such an offer only if it benefits the public, not for my own personal benefit,” Mora declared. Mireles gave a different answer. “I am solely focused on the movement. I fear that if the movement is politicized, it will be over because towns can be divided by political parties.”
Mireles says the movement was inspired by the autonomous indigenous town of Cheran, which kicked out illegal loggers and political parties, setting up its own patrols to defend its territory and to prevent organized crime activity. The Cheran movement based its autonomy on Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He notes that these rights don’t apply in the same way to his movement, comprised of mestizos, but they serve as a model.
Mireles asserts that the self-defense movement bases its legitimacy on Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution: “Every Mexican citizen has the right to have a gun in their home, for security and self-defense” and Article 39, which states “national sovereignty resides essentially and originally in the people … Citizens have at all times the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government.”
The spokesperson explains that the self-defense groups were originally called “communitarians” as are many of the indigenous groups, but they adopted the name self-defense groups since self defense is a legal right of all Mexicans. He notes that the groups “made a pact so that when elections come, they will not divide us.”
In Buenavista and other communities, the self defense groups had turned their attention to rebuilding the community after ousting the criminal gangs. In new neighborhood councils, representatives propose initiatives and deliver petitions to the government or consult on what measures to take.
Some people worry about their children, who have been growing up in an environment where they learn about different calibers of weapons, see murders close up and are close to many forms of violence. Others struggle to cope after losing children, siblings or parents, and still others have loved ones imprisoned for taking up arms.
None of that dampened spirits at the anniversary festivities though. Michoacan’s self-defense groups celebrated and vowed to continue in arms until the Knights Templar have been defeated.
Film maker Mandujano says that spirit is in danger;
The group said after the meeting that they are being persecuted not only by criminals but also by authorities.
Dr. Mireles, said in an audio message posted on the Internet that the groups are "being persecuted by the Knights Templar, the army, the navy and all the police departments."
Mireles claimed that prosecutors levied the charges because Mora dared to demand that the government keep its promises.
|Mireles believes Mora is innocent and continues to support him|
"When (Mora) put pressure on authorities because they haven't fulfilled their part of the accords, they became demanding and now say there are 35 complaints against him," Mireles said.
"And now they are coming after us, they want to scare us," he added.
Mireles's statement came a day after a federal official said the government would "put a stop" to the vigilantes.
"The people united will never be defeated!"