Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat
More than 600 community policemen of the United Front for the Security and Development of the State of Guerrero (FUSDEG) occupied the community of Petaquillas, Guerrero. They set up checkpoints at the entrance to the state capital of the state in order to defend against organized crime.
The armed citizens arrived at the request of the residents and the municipal commissioner Arquímides Vargas Encarnación, who reported that they live in danger because the territory that they inhabit is fought between two groups of organized crime “those of Chilpancingo, and those of Mochitlán,” referring to the criminal groups “Los Rojos” and “Los Ardillos”.
During the incursion on Petaquillas, at around 6:00 A.M., the community police set up checkpoints where they searched vehicles at the limits with the capital of the state and around 200 soldiers rushed to the scene, where they threatened to disarm the community policemen, but it did not happen. In the operation, throughout the day, at least 1,000 military troops were involved.
The FUSDEG is a division of the Citizens System of Security and Justice (SSJC) of the Union of People and Organizations of Guerrero (UPOEG), citizens police of the Valle del Ocotito. The community police, led by the commissioner Arquímides Vargas and the former commissioner Belester Herreras Rojas de Petaquillas, reported that they organized to protect themselves from kidnappers, extortionists, robbers, shootouts, and assassinations that have become daily occurrences, despite the fact that they notified and constantly asked for help from police and military forces.
It was announced that 10 men were elected to make up their own Community Police. At 6:20 A.M. on Saturday, a checkpoint of the Community Police was set up in front of the colony Río Azul, of the community of Petaquillas, where they searched cars that were traveling towards Acapulco. Armed with 22 gauge shotguns, and with black shirts that identified them as Community Police of FUSDEG, they traveled through the community, which is located 12 kilometers from Chilpancingo.
The Army Has Not Provided Security
A convoy of Mexican Army soldiers faced off with members of the Community Police, the Commander of the 50th Infantry Battalion, Francisco Arroyo, said that the soldiers were conducting a routine shift towards Acapulco when they noticed the presence of armed citizens, and stopped, “they caught our attention and we stopped because they are affecting a main road,” he explained.
He commented that they were reported about the presence of the Community Police, and that they received the order to remain in the location until the armed citizens withdrew.
From the military convoy there were: two military trucks, 10 trucks, and an ambulance. They spent more than two hours at the location without achieving an agreement with the Community Police, who were backed by 30 residents of the community of Petaquillas, and neighbors.
Faced with the armed deployment of the Federal and State Government, protesters moved in with more trucks with community policemen and neighbors of Petaquillas, who demanded the exit of the soldiers. Meanwhile, Commissioner Arquímedes Vargas, from the same community, explained that they decided to coordinate with the Community Police because the Federal and State Governments have failed to provide security.
“The security things have gotten out of hand, today the civil society has to intervene to guarantee what the government has been obligated to give,” said the commissioner.
The military tried to persuade the Community Police to hand over their weapons, because “they can’t carry firearms outside of their homes, and any less for a mobilization”.
The people demanded that the military withdraw from the place because “they have nothing to do there”. For an hour there were moments of tension, because of the intention of the Mexican Army trying to disarm the Community Police, but with the arrival of more inhabitants of Petaquillas, along with other colonies such as Valle Esmeralda and Real del Valle, the situation was de-tensioning.
At 8:45 in the morning, the assistant secretary for legal affairs, Victoriano Sánchez Carbajal, arrived at the scene where the checkpoint was set up. He tried to talk to the people of Petaquillas. The citizens broke down one by one their complaints and anger against the inefficiency of the three levels of government to provide security to the population, who have lived under the oppression of the violence.
During the dialogue with Sánchez Carbajal, who committed to forming a state government commission to address the problem, the protesters demanded a meeting in a “neutral” place, and proposed to hold the meeting at the police station in their community.
The official did not specify the meeting with the commission of the state government, but said that it was not carried out because authorities did not want to hold the meeting in that community.
Later, around 11:30 on Saturday morning, more than 30 people coming from communities of Quechultenango, Mochitlán and Colotlipa told the Community Police that they did not want them to enter their communities.
The person who led the group was identified as the commissioner of Colotlipa, Nicolás Nava Acevedo, who approached the soldiers and told them that they had their unconditional support and participation in the safety of their communities.
That group was identified as residents of Quechultenango, Mochitlán and Colotlipa, they were dressed in jeans and polo shirts and consisted of only men. They claimed that they didn’t want the Community Police because it affects the tourism in the area.
The men of the neighboring towns went to the center of the community where they tried to enter the assembly that the residents of Petaquillas were trying to hold, but with their arrival, the Community Police organized themselves and prevented their entry to the main square.
A few had cardboard posters that said “the municipality of Quechultenango lives in Peace, it doesn’t want comunitarios”.
The neighbors of Petaquillas demanded that they leave the square, but minutes after the discussion, around 250 more men arrived in support of the group of Quechultenango. In this second discussion, those of Petaquillas yelled “out of here”, “you don’t have anything to do here”, “they are ‘Ardillos’ and the family of Ortega protects them”.
The neighbors accused them of being sent by “Los Ardillos”, an organized crime group that is linked with relatives of the local PRD representative, Bernardo Ortega Jiménez.
The commissioner of Colotlipa insisted that they allow them to enter the main square, to talk with the commissioner of Petaquillas and to emphasize that they do not want the Community Police.
After talking for half an hour, it was decided that they allow entry only to the commissioner, who spoke to the villagers and stated that they do not want any community policemen in the municipalities of Mochitlán and Quechultenango.
Minutes after the intervention of Nicolás Nava Acevedo, the group of men, who amounted to around 300, withdrew from the village, under the motto of not allowing the entry of the Community Police in their region.
Appointing the Community Police
At 12 in the afternoon, the meeting began and 200 people unanimously decided to form their own Community Police supported by FUSDEG, because they are tired of violence and living in fear in their village.
The meeting was held in the small main square of the village, opposite the police station, and served to tell how they have suffered from extortions and kidnappings.
Doña Silvia, a neighbor of the community, recalled that a few months ago she was a collateral victim of an attack on her neighbor’s house. They shot up the house and stray bullets pierced her refrigerator.
With tears in her eyes, she said she was tired of being afraid, of thinking that she can lose her sons due to a stray bullet, that she no longer sleeps peacefully, and no one does anything to provide security.
Don Belisario, another resident, said that small business merchants are charged $1,000 pesos a week to pay dues, while merchants with businesses like bars are charged $10,000 a month.
He added that the authorities have been omissive with the requirement to provide security for the population, who for more than two years, have been victims of kidnappings, shootings, extortions, and assassinations.
At the meeting, it was agreed that tours of the community would be carried out in order to inform everyone about the new security system for its inhabitants, where men and women both pledged to join.
In the meeting, the promoter of community development of FUSDEG, Crescencio Ramírez López, spoke about the conformation of the Community Police in his community, of the necessity of men and women being responsible for their security and of their neighbors, and how to operate.
He spoke of his experience in the municipality of Juan R. Escudero (Tierra Colorada), and about the extortions from organized crime in the zone, and how they have dealt with it.
He added that in this support of the community are members of FUSDEG of the municipality of Juan R Escudero, of Chilpancingo (Valle del Ocotito), while in Acapulco, they are just waiting to determine if they need more support.
About the confrontation with inhabitants of the other municipalities and communities, he said that he could not give a position until the assembly discussed it and conclude with the first step of providing security to the community that requested it.
During the meeting, army trucks discreetly passed heading to Mochitlán and Quechultenango, and some soldiers wore the Plan DN-III-E (Plan to Aid Civilian Disaster) insignia even though there was no contingency in the area.
The trucks passed by twos and every ten minutes, another group of trucks passed systematically, apparently to avoid attention.
Meanwhile in the federal highway, the same military convoy remained, reinforced by four more military trucks.
The coordinator of the municipal cabinet, Francisco Osorio Flores, explained that the City Council would intervene so that a dialogue with the state government would be given.
He added that he does not mean to be with agreement with the arrival of the Community Police, because it does not operate within the “legal framework”. He recalled that in the capital, the Mando Único Police Force has been gaining “strength” since it was established in 2013.
Source: Sin Embargo