The uneasy peace in Mexico’s Michoacán region was shattered last week when Zacán villagers discovered the severed heads of four residents in plastic bags left on a small terrace near the local church. [borderlandbeat.com pieced together a report from Facebook posts.] The Knights Templar cartel killed these innocents to remind the Mexican freedom fighters who’s in charge – and it ain’t federal troops (seen standing near the dumped body parts, in the picture after the jump). Zacán’s not far from Tingüindín. Two days two days previous, security forces discovered a mass grave in Tingüindín containing at least 20 bodies. And now . . .
The vigilante “self-defense” groups in Mexico’s Michoacán state on Saturday entered Apatzingan, the stronghold of the Knights Templar drug cartel, carrying no weapons but escorted by troops and federal police.
Carrying no weapons? I highly doubt that. Or if that’s the case I doubt that the civilians joining the military were official representatives of the self-defense groups. That’s because . . .
The LA Times story fails to take account of previous reports in which the military was already in control of Apatzingan. Or the antagonistic relationship between the Mexican freedom fighters/revolutionaries/armed self-defense groups/vigilantes/whatever-you-call-’em and the Mexican government – who have done sweet FA to rid Michoacán of cartel atrocities.
Quite the opposite. The cartels – Knights Templar and the rest – have a cozy, mutually profitable relationship with the Mexican government and, it should be said, Uncle Sam. This is not a simple fight between the self-defense groups and the Mexican government against the drug thugs. As the revolutions leaders know well enough.
Anyone who believes that the revolutionaries will lay down their arms in response to the Mexican government’s “escort” into Apatzingan, their promise to rid the area of cartel influence and the recently announced decision to pour tax money into the region is dreaming. “No one is disarming,” self-defense leader Dr José Manuel Mireles told elpais.com [before the move into Apatzingan].
“At the moment, there appears to be that intention after the federal government and the state authorities announced that they are taking hold of the situation – something that we had been demanding when we organized ourselves last February. But all during that time, state officials, instead of helping out, were the ones who were fanning the flames.
“In fact, they attacked us more than they did the Templarios. They have already gone into action and announced two arrests, but we haven’t even any evidence of the first person who was detained – El Toro. He was the person who was in charge of the Tepalcatepec square, the biggest rapist of them all. He would rape four or five women from the same household and nobody could stop him.”
Here’s another disturbing development from the LA Times:
Though some of the vigilantes appear to be sincerely interested in ridding their state of organized crime, there is widespread concern that others may be fighting a proxy war on behalf of a rival drug cartel called the Jalisco New Generation.
That sounds like a pre-excuse for slaughtering the “vigilantes”: they’re secret cartel members. An article on the rise of the revolutionaries in yesterday’s telegraph.co.uk offers more dark foreshadowing:
For some in Mexico, the vigilantes inspire optimism. But others fear the self-defence squads may only damage further Mexico’s shaky rule of law, and that justice at the barrel of a gun will spread.
Hello? How else is justice dispensed? Anyway, what, pray tell, does the U.S. State Department have to say about any of this? Nothing. Then again, they armed the Sinaloa cartel through operation Fast & Furious and other government policies and programs. What do you expect? Save more bloodshed. Even so . . .
Despite the risks Reginaldo Morales, a middle-aged lime farmer clad in a bullet-proof vest, said he would rather die fighting than live in fear of the cartel thugs kidnapping, murdering and raping.
“We are stopping the gangsters from going into our town, where they can hurt women and children,” said Mr Morales, a father of four. “Yes I have killed some of them in shoot-outs. But they are evil men and God will forgive me for that.”