By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The government of Mexico demobilized a vigilante group fighting the drug cartel Knights Templar in the State of Michoacan. The group, consisting of manly ranchers and farmers, was successful in largely expelling the cartel while the government was not able.
At a ceremony in the city of Tepalcatepec, where the group began in February of 2013, uniformed members of the now official Self-Defense Council of Michoacan (CAM) were assigned arms and uniforms. 120 officers were sworn in as a rural police force.
The group’s spokesman, Estanislao Beltran proclaimed. “Now we are part of the government. Now we can defend ourselves with weapons in a legal way.”
There are hopes in the government the creation of this new police force will end the lawlessness in the state and the vigilantism of the civilian population. The federal commissioner for Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo said that action would be taken now against “false self-defense groups” but said of the CAM “[You] will have the responsibility of defending your neighbors from delinquency and organized crime.”
The government found itself in a difficult situation. Elected leaders and law enforcement agencies lost control of the state to the Knights Templar and were unable to regain control of it despite the assistance of the Federal Police and the Military. Eventually the government had to rely on the vigilante groups to root out the cartel due to their tactics and their knowledge of where to find the cartel.
Mexico has fought a long war against the cartels but the larger picture is that local and state governments have suffered from endemic corruption and neglect. Some have accused several areas of Mexico as being failed states in the international sense where laws are often ignored and seldom enforced to the long term detriment of society. But is the commissioning of a vigilante group an effective means of addressing a problem where the government has failed or is this to lead to extra judicial and largely unregulated groups that have plagued other nations?
With the establishment of the commission and cooperation with the self-defense council the federal forces were able to arrest or have killed the three main leaders of the Knights Templar and a fourth is on the run. Yet, the vigilante movement is fractured by divisions. A founder of a vigilante group, Mipolito Mora is incarcerated, accused of murdering two rival vigilantes. Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, the spokesman for another vigilante group was allegedly involved in the killing of five vigilantes.
Still, other vigilante groups, despite the demobilization of the CAM, vowed to continue their campaigns as they see fitting. They have set up roadblocks in Caleta and other parts of the state. Meluir Sauceda, a vigilante, vowed that they do not need outside assistance stating in an interview, “We don’t want them (Government and regular police forces) to come, we don’t recognize them. Here we can maintain our own security. We don’t need anyone bringing it from outside.”
Many predict little will change after Saturday.”This (demobilization) agreement is just something to please the government,” said Rene Sanchez, 22, a vigilante from the self-defense stronghold of Buenavista. “With them or without them, we are going to keep at it.”
The situation in Mexico is reminiscent of Colombia which has fought a bloody conflict between the Medellín Cartel, government law enforcement, and various paramilitary vigilante forces having close ties with the government; namely the Muerte a Secuestradores. The cartel was also bitter enemies of the Cali Cartel. But Mexico, unlike Colombia had a more establish and well funded government whereas Mexico continues to be largely unable to meet the needs of society. The situation is likely to degrade into further conflict and vigilantism which many individuals in the areas widely controlled by cartel sympathizing elements see these illegal groups as the only answer to address their needs than incompetent government agencies. For the individual faced with few prospects of a better future the law of the rifle and vigilantism will continue to be a way of life.
Yet, there is a growing movement in Mexico protesting the violence. The hope is that eventually a solution will be found and a peaceful life can resume for Mexico’s citizens.
By Darren Smith
Source: The Olympian
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.