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28 February 2012

Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

This would perhaps be more suitable material for Burro Hall  ( “La Cebolla para  Gringos)… the Army called in on a search and destroy mission in Apatzingán, Michoacán… their target:  120 plastic helmets.

One of the odder organized gangs in Mexico, Los Caballeros Templarios, the successor to La Familia Michoacana — was at one time held out by the Administration (both here in Mexico and in Washington) to be the baddest of our assorted varieties of bad guys.

I sense it wasn’t so much that they were as ruthless as any of the other gangsters that made them considered a priority as much as it was that they had a social agenda. La Familia Michoacana was decidedly weird as criminal organizations go, combining traditional criminal activities like meth production and kidnapping with “community outreach” programs.   La Familia members eschewed narcotics use themselves (and assassinated local dealers) and presented themselves as an champions of a rural culture threatened by outsiders, although it was fairly obvious that their programs and ideology was based on a foreign model… the American evangelical organization, Focus on the Family.

La Familia was broken up (and, as usual, it’s leaders died in gun-battles, saving everyone the embarrassment of a trial) but the Caballeros appear to carry on with not just the tradition gangsterism, but with the attempts to give an ideological justification to their activities.  The off-the-shelf American Protestant “self-help” program maybe just being too foreign and too out of tune with the traditions in Michoacan.  Something a little dressier, a little more… oh… Catholic and medieval perhaps… like the Knights Templars.

The Cabelleros are said to wear these helmets during some sort of “secret ritual”, though if they were, wouldn’t there be some plastic swords or spears or something to go along with them.  The “knights” would have looked mighty silly in these things if they were carrying around the normal modern accoutrements of your scary Mexican gangster (AK-47, six of seven cell phones, a beer gut and a bad attitude).

Not that historical authenticity is all that important, but those hemets are more fake ancient Greek than fake middle ages, but what the Hell.  Fake armor seems appropriate to a fake war prosecuted under false pretenses.

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