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In defense or indefensible?

18 June 2013


Via Karl Monter and Mendoza Robarri Arturo I ran across this recent photo from Jornada Michoacán. These are members of a “grupo de autodefensa” (self-defense force) in Aquila, Michoacán. Notice that the group (or at least the two male members) are wearing a sort of uniform, to identify  themselves.

I’m of two minds about these rural self-defense forces.  On the one hand, I can understand why indigenous and isolated communities in Michoacán and Guerrero have taken such drastic measures.  They are under siege from the gangsters who supply the U.S. with the “harmless recreational” drugs… and perhaps more threateningly, by illegal timber harvesters who are destroying the watershed that keeps these rural communities alive.  And their local administrations don’t have the budget for proper security.

On the other hand, the State — which is admittedly doing a piss-poor job of protecting these communities — sees armed peasant communities as a very real threat, and a prelude to rebellion.  The Army has been sent in on occasion to disarm these groups, which is resented and resisted.  Localism, a distrust of outsiders and “community values” clash with the “rule of law”and have led to lynchings and summary justice on occasion.

(Photo:  Jornada de Michoacán)

One Comment leave one →
  1. 7 October 2014 12:52 am

    Good post. I will be dealing with many of these issues as well..

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