Actually, that headline is a tad misleading. The spread of Mexico’s “autodefensas” is not due to the citizen militia’s physical proximity to each another. Rather it’s down to synchronous suffering: tens of thousands of Mexicans living under the constant threat of torture, rape, mutilation, extortion and murder who armed themselves and rose up against the cartels and their police and military enablers. We’ve reported on the “vigilantes” progress in Michoacan, where a sudden and predictable influx of federal troops has created an fragile peace in the beleaguered territory. We now have word of a similar situation developing to Michoacan’s south, in Guerrero. The LA Times reports that . . .
autodefensa groups are now active in more than half of the 81 municipalities in Guerrero, a state of 3.5 million people, according to Mexico’s human rights commission. Guerrero is perhaps best known outside the country as home to the now-faded beach resort city of Acapulco, but it has suffered as much as Michoacan, if not more, from enduring poverty, weak or corrupt local governments and the deeply embedded presence of feuding cartels.
In the last few weeks, concern over the state’s stability has increased with the arrival of the armed vigilantes on the outskirts of the troubled capital, and their open deliberations over whether to proceed to the center of government power . . .
“It hasn’t had the same attention as Michoacan, but Guerrero is in a very grave situation,” said Jorge Chabat, a professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching. If the situation worsens, Chabat said, “it could create a sense that Peña Nieto doesn’t control anything.”
If that’s not an armed revolution, I don’t know what is. And here’s the thing: there’s no way Mexico’s President is going to let this insurrection go on forever. He will attempt to make his peace with its leaders – as is the way with corrupt leaders – and then, when that doesn’t work, attempt to crush the autodefensas like a bug. With the cartels’ help, presumably.
In the dusty community of Tierra Colorada, just outside the capital, autodefensa member Neftali Villagomez Hernandez, 66, told The Times that vigilantes would reject coming under federal control because they don’t think the government really wants to take the fight to the narcos.
“Here, we’re going to continue on the way we are,” he said. “A self-defense, citizens’ system of security.”
And they wouldn’t have had a hope in Hell without “illegal” guns, some of which were smuggled into Mexico from the United States, many of which they secreted away during the Mexican government’s gun control regime.