Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More on grass-roots law enforcement

Back in February, vigilantes in rural Mexico made news by turning suspected criminals over to the government. They are in the news again because in at least one place, they've turned to politics.

Worry grows over Mexico vigilante movement
Debate is intensifying over armed vigilante patrols that have sprung up in crime-plagued sections of rural Mexico, particularly in the state of Guerrero, where some patrols joined forces this week with a radical teachers union that has been wreaking havoc with massive protests, vandalism and violent confrontations with police.

The two groups, on the surface, would appear to have little in common. The vigilante patrols, typically made up of masked campesinos, are among dozens that have emerged in the countryside in recent months, purporting to protect their communities from the depredations of the drug cartels. The state-level teachers union, meanwhile, has taken to the streets to protest a sweeping education reform law backed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto…

The groups took part in their first joint demonstration this week in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state, which is home to the well-known resort city of Acapulco…

[T]here is concern that an already-volatile series of political protests may take on a violent edge.

In general, the idea of aggrieved campesinos taking up arms and demanding justice resonates deeply in the national mythos, and the vigilantes have been embraced in some quarters…

There have been problems, however. In February, a group in the Guerrero community of Las Mesas shot and injured two tourists… In March, federal authorities announced the arrest of 34 members of a self-defense group… alleging they were connected to the drug cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion…

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At 8:17 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Mexico's vigilante law enforcers

Insecurity dominates the lives of millions of Mexicans. Caught between the murderous drug cartels and absent or corrupt law enforcement, communities are taking the law into their own hands. In the state of Guerrero, a fledgling vigilante force has grown into an organisation numbering thousands…

[T]hey became a force to be reckoned with earlier this year… But they have no legal authority, and they should not be carrying their guns in the street.

This does not seem to be of concern to the steady stream of locals who come to the HQ to report crime…

Citizens' self-defence groups are now operating in 13 Mexican states. According to one newspaper, Reforma, they are present in more than 60 municipalities. But there are wider concerns about the growth of the vigilante movement in Mexico…

This is a movement that is growing in confidence. The risk is that it becomes yet another unaccountable, organised, armed group - one that threatens rather than enhances the security of the citizens of Ayutla.


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