Posts Tagged ‘Michoacán’

Mexico: Behind the Peña Nieto-Fidel photo-op

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto attended CELAC last week and sat with Fidel Castro for the cameras. Carlos Puig explains what’s behind the photo-op:
Mexico’s Pena Nieto Is for Reform, Just Not in Cuba

The picture released afterward by the Cuban government — Pena Nieto talking, Fidel listening — didn’t come cheap. Last year, Pena Nieto’s administration erased $340 million of Cuba’s debt to Mexico, or about 70 percent of the total amount. That’s more than the value of trade between the two countries, which reached $297 million over the first nine months of last year; $274 million of that represented Mexico’s surplus. The bilateral relationship is otherwise limited. From the Mexican side, at least, the main issue may be the influx of Cubans who use Mexico as a way station to the U.S.

Puig poses the question,

Yet it isn’t clear what Mexico gains by ignoring the reality that Cuba has no elections, no political parties, no free press or freedom of expression, and that dissidents are harassed and jailed. Certainly, Mexico stands to gain little economic benefit.

Pena Nieto’s choice also raises interesting questions about the character of a government willing to ignore such human-rights violations in a neighboring country. Isn’t such a government more likely to excuse its own human-rights problems, such as the tens of thousands of murders and disappearances during the last decade of drug war?

Meanwhile, in Mexico, there’s a lot going on in Michoacán’s Tierra Caliente. Enrique Krauze describes Mexico’s Vigilantes on the March

The epicenter of the present vigilante confrontation with the Knights Templar is the area known as the Tierra Caliente, a relatively isolated zone that, since colonial times, has been marked by its torrid climate, fertile soil, aggressive animals, poisonous plants, and a tendency toward violence among its inhabitants. Fray Diego Basalenque, who composed chronicles of Michoacán in the 17th century, wrote about the Tierra Caliente: “For someone not born here, it is uninhabitable. For its natives it is unbearable.” It has become a preferred sanctuary for the Knights.

The national government recently sent a substantial federal force (both military and police) to the region. Corrupt municipal police officers have been stripped of their authority and national troops have established a modus vivendi with self-defense groups. The vigilantes have the support of the majority of the population and of respected clerics.

Unverified rumors have it that some of the self-defense units are connected with a narco gang in a neighboring state called Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación). Regardless of whether that is true or not, President Enrique Peña Nieto, who came to power in 2012, would be wise to press for the incorporation of the vigilantes into a legal entity, as two powerful presidents in the 19th century, Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz, did when they were dealing with crime. They developed a mobile strike force (Los Rurales) that suppressed rampant banditry. The elimination of a gang like the Knights Templar, however, will require much intelligence-gathering and coordination among various law-enforcement agencies. And it will take time.

Joshua Partlow, on the other hand, last week posited that A Mexican militia, battling Michoacan drug cartel, has American roots.


Mexico: Michoacán vigilantes to join with police

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

and El Tio, one of the Knights Templar bosses, was arrested,
Mexico Reaches Pact With Vigilante Groups
Self-Defense Groups in Michoacán State Agree to Join Rural, Town Police as Security Forces Capture a Top Cartel Leader

Since the government intervened two weeks ago, federal forces have detained more than 100 people, but the detainees hadn’t included any of the top leaders of the Knights Templar, which takes its name from a medieval organization of crusading warrior monks. The vigilantes have demanded the government capture the Templars’ top leaders as a prerequisite for their laying down their arms.

Aside from their drug profits, the Knights Templar made tens of millions of dollars from extorting Michoacán’s lime and avocado growers, cattlemen, hoteliers and other businessmen. Many of the state’s towns and cities were forced to give a 10% cut of their budget to the criminal organization, local officials say.

El Tío, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, is not to be confused with this other Tío,

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Catholic priests, with the encouragement of their bishop, are actively encouraging people to fight the Knights Templars:
Priests take the lead in fierce revolt against drug gang in Mexico’s Michoacan

The anger of the clergy is aimed with equal vehemence at gangsters and at government officials, who they say have not done enough to rein in crime and extortion. That vexation will get a vast airing at morning Mass this Sunday, when priests across the Apatzingan diocese will read a scathing pastoral letter from Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez that accuses federal police and soldiers of doing little to capture Knights Templar bosses.

“Their leaders are fully identified and yet no authority stops them,” the letter says.

In his letter, Patino evokes the Nazi era, saying Christian believers should not only console the victims but also halt the Nazi campaign to kill its enemies.

“We ask politicians, the government and the Interior Secretariat to give people of our region clear signals that in reality they want to halt the ‘killing machine,’” Patino writes.

The vigilantes are fighting against corruption,

Since February 2013, a vigilante campaign by armed civilians has spread across nearly a third of Michoacan. The vigilantes call themselves self-defense groups or community police, and they have won broad citizen support from nearly everyone, from large farm owners down to tortilla vendors and doormen at public restrooms.

In barely 11 months, the vigilantes have occupied at least 15 townships. In each, they have disbanded municipal police and run off politicians believed linked to organized crime

As you may recall, the government clashed with the militia last week.

It’ll be interesting to see how it develops. Will the militia turn into criminal paramilitary groups, as the did in Colombia? Or will they clean up Michoacan?


Mexico: Mireles won’t back down

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Mexican militia leader vows to continue battle with drug cartels after plane crash

More than a week after surviving a plane crash, the injured Mexican militia leader Jose Manuel Mireles rejected the government’s call for his movement to disarm, vowing to fight on until the drug cartel leaders in his area have been arrested and the state of Michoacan establishes the rule of law.

Mireles, a 55-year-old surgeon who leads the militia movement that has spread rapidly over the past year across Michoacan and seized territory from the Knights Templar drug cartel, spoke to reporters late Monday from a safe house after being treated at a private hospital in Mexico City.

As you know, militias fighting the Knights Templar cartel in Michoacán state got smashed by the government, leaving 2-4 militia dead.

Mexico: Military clash with cartel-fighting militias

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

In Michoacán state, militias fighting the Knights Templar cartel get smashed by the government.

Mexico Confronts Cartel-Fighting Militias
The Mexican military confronted armed vigilantes that had organized to repel a crime cartel from their rural southern state, Michoacán, in deadly clashes on Tuesday.

There were no reports on arrests or confrontations with cartel members on Tuesday, prompting some confusion among Michoacán residents over why the military seemed determined to disarm the militias but not the cartel. Others were concerned over the vulnerability of unarmed and readily identifiable militia members if Knights Templar members seek to retaliate.

A spokesman for the vigilantes, Estanislao Beltrán, said during a news conference that Tuesday’s confrontation began when soldiers who had confiscated weapons from the militias in the town of Antúnez were blocked by townspeople.

It was unclear how many people died during the morning clash. Mexican media, citing unofficial accounts by the military, put the number at two, while Mr. Beltrán said four had died.

Interestingly, the attack on the militia coincides with this:

In recent days the vigilante groups appeared to gain the advantage over the cartel. On Sunday, they entered Nueva Italia and encircled Apatzingán, the town of 100,000 where the cartel is based.

Mexico has some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the hemisphere.

Was it John Adams who said, “An armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject”?

Related:
Militia Mayhem for Mexico

En español: Fausto Vallejo, gobernador de Michoacán, en la unidad de quemados,


Mexico: The cartel-induced blackout

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

From the looks of it, now the Knights Templar are engaging in terrorism:
Mexican Cartel Retaliates Against Civilians
One State’s Residents Say Crime Group Attacked Electric Plants, Killed Protesters

The attacks in Mexico’s southern Michoacán state on Sunday morning left some 420,000 residents, about 10% of the state’s population, without electricity, authorities said. The outages also happened in Morelia city, where an international film festival attended by the directors Quentin Tarantino and Alfonso Cuarón was under way.

On Monday, as electricity mostly returned, the government didn’t specify how exactly the attacks shut down the system, only that armed men fired bullets and threw Molotov cocktails at electricity stations throughout the state, leaving 11 towns and cities without power.

And,

The attacks in Mexico’s southern Michoacán state on Sunday morning left some 420,000 residents, about 10% of the state’s population, without electricity, authorities said. The outages also happened in Morelia city, where an international film festival attended by the directors Quentin Tarantino and Alfonso Cuarón was under way.

On Monday, as electricity mostly returned, the government didn’t specify how exactly the attacks shut down the system, only that armed men fired bullets and threw Molotov cocktails at electricity stations throughout the state, leaving 11 towns and cities without power

The Knights Templar emerged from what was left of la Familia Michoacana.