Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat
By: Rafael Camacho
On December 16, 2014, an ambush carried out against a truck in which Semeí Verdía (Commander of the Community Police of Santa María Ostula and General Coordinator of the Autodefensas on the coast of Michoacán) was supposedly driving in left a total of five people injured, including a minor. After these events, the community carried out clearing work on Federal Highway 200 to prevent further attacks.
At least 700 villagers from different syndicates, accompanied by the Community Police, cleared the highway section from Xayacalan to La Ticla, in an impressive display of organization, mutual support, and community work.
“We don’t want them to continue harming innocent people, we have been in this movement and we don’t fear death but it does bother us, we still worry that innocent families keep getting hurt and that is why we try to do the job, so that what happened before doesn’t happen again”
It is worth noting that minutes after the attack, Community Police arrested Jonathan Aguilar Juan, alias “La Changa”, who confessed that the armed group was composed of five people and directed by Luis N., alias “El Caracol”, who also participated in the torture and murder of Trinidad de la Cruz, “Don Trino”, on December 6, 2011, a crime that remains unpunished.
The arrested assailant stated that his intention was to assassinate Semeí Verdía, but they mistook the vehicle that he was traveling in and that the order was given by Federico González, alias “Lico”, plaza chief of the Caballeros Templarios in the municipality of Aquila, and Mario Álvarez, former mayor of Aquila and former PRI deputy.
From that moment, up to early February of 2014, the Community Police restructured itself to oust the Caballeros Templarios from the Nahua territory, the community organizational process was retaken, and the community assemblies returned; the commissioner of community property was restored, and little by little, community members who had been forced into exile have returned to their homes. For more than 10 months, this process has had its ups and downs with the struggle for autonomy and for the defense of common lands, which have been stripped by smallholders (linked to the Caballeros Templarios and PRI politicians, all interested in the building of infrastructure to output iron that is mined in the region, and in doing so, consolidating a secure business). However, the decision to reconstruct has been stronger.
During busy and long community meetings, the residents of Ostula have recently identified people who are linked to organized crime and remain in the community. At these same meetings, detailed denunciations were made and measures were taken to address these issues, that is why the recent attack on Semeí Verdía could be considered a sort of response from those who have been identified as members of the cartel or as collaborators.