When we last checked-up on Mexican auto-defensas, the federal government had created a rural police force to co-opt the thousands of Mexican militia members. All the auto-defensas had to do: register their guns, grab a literal handful of ammo, put on an official uniform and take orders from the feds. As borderlandbeat.com reports (after the jump) the federales‘ new “Fuerza Rural” isn’t finding fertile ground. “Of the 27 towns and cities part of the May 10 agreement, only five have actually created a FR unit . . . In all the others, the self-defense groups, i.e., armed civilians, continue operating as before.” And a good thing too . . .
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With rifles and pistols of all sizes, including those reserved exclusively for the Mexican Army, self-defense groups are still in the towns and villages of Michoacán.
The threat to arrest any civilian seen in public with guns turned out to be just talk.
The self-defense groups are still present in many towns in the state, manning checkpoints and aiding the federal forces, as happened in Apatzingán a few days ago.
On May 27, alleged members of the Templarios engaged in a gun battle with self-defense forces in downtown Apatzingán.
After the shootout, federal forces and self-defense members were deployed to three colonias, where other firefights took place, searching for the aggressors.
With high-powered weapons in plain sight, the self-defense members conducted searches of houses and streets.
“After May 10, there will be no armed people seen in the streets,” warned Interior Minister Osorio Chong, during a trip to Morelia on April 24th.
He was basing this statement on the agreement reached 10 days earlier between Commissioner Castillo and leaders of the self-defense groups.
In this agreement, the rebellious civilians accepted the registration of their weapons and the opportunity to join the new Fuerza Rural starting May 10th.
In this way, the self-defense members could continue to guard their communities, but now under rules, with registered weapons and official uniforms.
Commissioner Castillo even warned that there would be no extension to any of the deadlines announced.
The new Fuerza Rural (FR), previously self-defense groups, began operating on May 10th.
However, almost three weeks later, federal authorities have had difficulties getting the FR up and running. Of the 27 towns and cities part of the May 10 agreement, only five have actually created a FR unit.
Tepalcatepec, Buenavista Tomatlán, Coalcomán, La Huacana y Chinicuila, are the only towns where the FR is currently operating.
In all the others, the self-defense groups, i.e., armed civilians, continue operating as before.
One of the checkpoints controlled by self-defense members is near the Cuatro Caminos-Apatzingán highway intersection. There you can see armed men openly carrying high-powered weapons and ammo, stopping and checking every vehicle that passes.