“Mexico has long suffered blistering violence and crime at the hands of its homegrown drug cartels,” businessinsider.com.au reports. “Though the Mexican government has waged war on the cartels, the effort has struggled to go anywhere. More than 90,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict.” Pause. That’s not anything like an accurate description of what’s going on down Mexico way. You have four warring parties: the drug cartels, the federal government, the local police and the populace. As you might expect in a country so corrupt it makes New Jersey look like Switzerland, the cartels, federales and policia form shifting alliances, punctuated by extreme internecine violence. As my father used to say, the populace get the sh*tty end of the lollipop. Disarmed by the government, they’ve been brutalized by the drug thugs and their taxpayer-funded allies. But now they’ve taken up arms and all hell is breaking loose . . .
Fed up with a corrupt police force that is often in bed with the cartels and a military that has to this point been ineffective [sic], some Mexicans have taken it upon themselves to fight the cartels and protect their families — with an incredible conflict happening this week in the city of Paracuaro.
And elsewhere. In fact, the “vigilantes” are a popular army that’s taking control of vast swathes of southern Mexico. The American mainstream media doesn’t get it. Mexican forces struggle to rein in armed vigilantes battling drug cartel cnn.com‘s headline proclaims. Here’s the play-by-play:
This week, the Mexican government stepped in, sending federal forces to the region and ordering the vigilante groups to lay down their weapons.
The smoldering situation has become a major problem for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, which has vowed to reduce drug violence.
In some areas, it hasn’t gone smoothly, with both sides refusing to back down in tense standoffs.
Mexican soldiers clashed with self-defense group members Tuesday in the town of Antunez, killing at least one person. And even as federal troops patrolled the city of Apatzingan, tensions ran high after a pharmacy burned down in a suspected arson attack just blocks away from City Hall on Wednesday.
By Thursday, Mexican authorities said they’d gained control of 20 municipalities in the region. But a top security official said he couldn’t set a date guaranteeing when the state would be safe.
Some vigilante groups have vowed not to hand over their guns until cartel leaders are captured.
“We want them to go rescue the towns where the people are still being massacred by organized crime,” said Estanislao Beltran, a spokesman for the self-defense groups. “When there is peace and security in our state, we will give up our weapons.”
I don’t think so. The public knows the unspeakable horror that’s been visited on them by the cartels and their government BFFs. They are unlikely to forget that lesson or surrender their weapons. Nor should they. The result would be [more] mass murder and mayhem. Because that’s what happens to a disarmed populace.
But before we celebrate the impact of Mexicans exercising their natural and civil right to keep and bear arms, it behooves us to consider the impact of our southern neighbor’s endemic corruption and weak Constitution:
Alfredo Castillo, appointed by the federal government this week to be a new commissioner heading up security in the state, offered an ominous warning Thursday.
In an interview with MVS Radio, he noted that the Familia Michoacana cartel — which eventually splintered and led to the formation of the Knights Templar — also started out as a group that aimed to defend the state’s residents in a push to kick out the Zetas.
The newly formed self-defense groups, he said, could become as ruthless as the cartels they claim to oppose.
“You can start out with a genuine purpose,” he said. “But when you start taking control, making decisions and feeling authority … you run the risk of reaching that point.”
We’ll keep an eye on the situation. Meanwhile, I wonder: how did these “vigilantes” get their guns and ammo?