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Unchecked Violence Continues in Michoacán, Mexico

In May 2013 Global Voices tackled the topic of the disproportionate violence that afflicts Michoacán de Ocampo, a state in the central-west zone of Mexico. Sadly, 5 months later, crime and attacks against the population continue to be in the news in the region.

Alberto Nájar from the BBC [es] recently referred to the wave of violence in Michocán territory in this way:

El estado vive una nueva ola de violencia que según especialistas y autoridades es parte de la disputa entre dos carteles de narcotráfico, a la que se añade el surgimiento de grupos de autodefensa civil.

El gobierno federal aplica en la zona una nueva operación que incluye el despliegue de cientos de soldados, infantes de la Marina y Policías Federales.

Hasta ahora su presencia no ha logrado evitar el enfrentamiento entre los grupos, ni tampoco los ataques a convoyes de policías.

The state is experiencing a new wave of violence that according to specialists and authorities is part of the dispute between two drug-trafficking cartels, to which is added the emergence of civil self-defense groups.

The federal government is implementing a new operation in the area which includes the deployment of hundreds of soldiers, Marine infantry and Federal Police.

Until now its presence has not managed to prevent conflict between the groups, nor attacks on police convoys.

For his part, the Mexican journalist Carlos Loret de Mola [es] gave a brief account of the events of the past few days in the state:

Grupos de autodefensa decidieron ir a manifestarse a Apatzingán [municipio ubicado en el oeste de Michoacán] con el argumento de que la gente de ahí les pedía gestionar más seguridad ante el asedio del cártel de Los Caballeros Templarios. El Ejército y la Policía Federal les dieron autorización para marchar siempre y cuando lo hicieran desarmados. En la plaza central, presuntos integrantes del crimen organizado los recibieron a balazos. Imágenes han comprobado que simpatizantes de los grupos de autodefensa también iban armados, a pesar de la advertencia oficial.

Self-defense groups decided to go and demonstrate in Apatzingán [municipality located in the west of Michoacán] with the argument that the people there asked them to provide more security against the harassment from the Caballeros Templarios cartel. The Army and the Federal Police gave them authorization to go ahead on condition that they did it unarmed. In the central plaza, they were met with gunshots from suspected members of the organised crime. Images have confirmed that supporters of the self-defense groups also went armed, despite the official warning.

Carlos continues:

Aparentemente en represalia por la coordinación de las fuerzas federales con las guardias comunitarias, criminales al parecer vinculados con Los Caballeros Templarios atacaron instalaciones de CFE [compañía de electricidad] y PEMEX [la corporación mexicana más grande, dedicada al petróleo]. ¿El saldo del fin de semana? Cinco cadáveres afuera de Apatzingán y versiones de que fueron hasta 23.

Ostensibly in retaliation to the coordination of the federal forces with the community police force, criminals who appear to be connected with the Caballeros Templarios attacked CFE [electricity company] and PEMEX [an oil company, and the largest company in Mexico] facilities. The weekend account balance? Five corpses outside Apatzingán and reports that there were up to 23.

This same number of deaths was reported by Blog De Izquierda [Left Blog] [es] on the October 29:

El Consejo de Policías Comunitarias de Tepalcatepec, Jospe Manuel Mireles, señaló que van 23 muertos por los enfrentamientos en Tierra Caliente en las últimas horas.

La violencia en México sigue fuera de control desde que Enrique Peña Nieto llegó al poder.

Tepalcatepec Community Police Council's, Jospe Manuel Mireles, pointed out that 23 are dead because of the conflicts in Tierra Caliente in the last few hours.

The violence in Mexico has been out of control since Enrique Peña Nieto came to power.

Héctor Tenorio, as guest author of Homozapping [es], pointed out:

La administración de Enrique Peña Nieto ya replanteó su estrategia en conjunto con el Gobierno michoacano, hará uso de la fuerza del Estado, se reforzó la seguridad en la entidad con 5 mil elementos del ejército ¿Será el nuevo modelo en la lucha contra el crimen organizado? ¿Es el reconocimiento que en muchas parte del país hay un Estado fallido?

En este contexto se debe entender que La Familia Michoacana, Los Zetas, Nueva Generación y los Caballeros Templarios, se disputan la entidad mientras las fuerzas federales no han sido capaces de descubrir las casas de seguridad del crimen organizado y hasta la fecha no hayan liberado a nadie cuando se cuentan por decenas las personas levantadas. ¿Será que no saben o no quieren? ¿Omisión o complicidad?

Enrique Peña Nieto's administration has already reconsidered its strategy together with the Michocán Government, it will make use of the State force, it has strengthened the security in the state with 5 thousand army members. Will it be the new model in the fight against organised crime? Is the acknowledgement that in many parts of the country there is a Failed State?

In this context it must be understood that La Familia Michoacana, Los Zetas, Nueva Generación and los Caballeros Templarios [cartels] compete for the state while the federal forces have not been capable of finding the organised crime safe houses, and to date they have not released anybody when those who have been abducted number in the tens. Is it because they don't know or don't want to? Omission or collusion?

As well as having used the delicate term “Failed State”, the author explained [es] the recent violent acts that have caused commotion:

Ahora bien, las imágenes del enfrentamiento armado en Apatzingán parecían escenas de una guerra civil, francotiradores dispararon y lanzaron una granada contra grupos de autodefensas cuando éstos realizaban una manifestación la cual se pactó con el ejército; en respuesta, los guardias comunitarios quemaron al menos seis camiones. Hubo un herido de bala y tres más de esquirlas.

So, the images of the armed conflict in Apatzingán would seem to be scenes from a civil war, snipers were fired and a grenade was thrown at self-defense groups when they carried out a demonstration which had been agreed upon with the army; in response, the community police burnt at least six trucks. There was a gunshot wound and three more were wounded by splinters.

On Twitter, the legislator of the conservative Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party), Ricardo Anaya, shared the following message among his followers:

What has happened in Michoacán paints a full portrait of the consequences of decades of neglect, frivolity, corruption, collusion and negligence.

In a tone perhaps of resignation and with a bit of sarcasm, the user valentin lpz expressed the following:

one day I will make love to you under a shootout in #Michoacan

In the following message, Mire García explained who are the most affected by this situation:

There's a total collapse in the governability of #Michoacán and the citizens are the only ones who face it and endure it day-to-day.

Cockgrinding Post expressed his solidarity with the Michoacán citizenship:

Our solidarity from the #DF for the Michoacán people who suffer because of the ineffectiveness of the Fausto Vallejo government #EstadoFallido (Failed State)

In the presence of this climate of violence and absence of security and minimum guarantees for the citizenship, all eyes are on the various orders from government (local and federal) searching for a solution and a ceasefire which, it looks like, will be a long time coming while the number of victims contines to rise.

The photo featured in this post was shared on Twitter by Noticias MVS.

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