July 30, 2013
Today, bullets are not only directed at individuals who fight to bring justice to their fallen family members, such as Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, Nepomuceno Moreno, and many other heroic fighters, but now also against citizens who form an organization to defend peace. The cowardly armed suppression of a group of civilians peacefully protesting on Monday in the town of Los Reyes, Michoacán shows that with Enrique Peña Nieto, we have entered a new phase in the “war” against insecurity that is simultaneously creepier and paradoxically more hopeful than during the presidency of Felipe Calderón.
The federal and local governments continue with the irresponsible and failed “strategy” implemented since 2006. Faced with any problem, they send more troops, police, and weaponry to “calm” the area, which predictably only begets more violence and blood. The tactic of “decapitating” major drug traffickers, such as El Z-40, also continues by orders and information from the U.S. government. The exaggerated accolades from Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano for Peña Nieto remind you of the comparison that the U.S. president made in 2010 towards Calderón comparing him to the supercop ‘Eliot Ness’ of the “Untouchables”.
What is striking about the current situation is not the alleged use of “intelligence” by the government of Peña Nieto, but of the courage and the organizational capacity of the communities ravaged by violence. The demonstrators in Los Reyes sought to take over the City Hall in order to dismiss the corrupt policemen, to put an end to extortions, and to establish a system of grassroots comunitarian self defense. On the past Wednesday, another group successfully managed to occupy the City Hall of Aquila, Michoacán and take control of the local Police Security Bureau in response to the total failure of the authorities to uphold the rule of law. On the same day, in Guerrero, villagers from Xaltianguis blocked the road Acapulco-México in order to defend their community police from harassment by the Mexican Army who sought to disarm them. There is also a video circulating on social networks that exposes the shocking and inspiring story of the Consejo Ciudadano de Autodefensa (Citizen’s Self-Defense Group) in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR6zUlX7QYU)
During the six-years of the presidency of Calderón, we have witnessed horrific homicides, including the grenade attacks on September 15, 2008 in Morelia, the massacre in Villas de Salvalcar in January 2010, and the attack on the Casino Royale in August 2011, among many other incidents. But today not only do armed groups attack citizens who are in recreational gatherings but also those who are in social events with specific demands.
The current “politicization” of the armed repression is a very serious phenomenon that should concern us all. And when this news is linked with the repression during the inauguration of Peña Nieto on December 1 and the systematic harassment towards the political dissidents during the current presidential term, it sets up a scenario of outright consolidation of more authoritarian ways of governance.
Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong stated that what happened in Los Reyes was “a response to the progress that the state and federal government have against organized crime”. The Secretariat of the Interior suggests that as the authorities have more “progress” in their “strategy”, citizens will have to wait for worsening armed attacks on civilian groups. Apparently, the “collateral damage” of the “war” of Peña Nieto will make those of the “war” of Calderón seem like child’s play.
While Calderón left the country in flames, and could even be found responsible for numerous war crimes during his term, at least society could have expressed their rejection publicly and peacefully in the streets. Today with Peña Nieto, social protests are increasingly becoming more dangerous.
It’s very unfortunate then that leading analysts and activists who were highly critical of Calderón, such as Sergio Aguayo, now celebrate the self-praise of Peña Nieto about his “new” strategy supposedly based on criminal “intelligence”. Opinion leaders, such as Aguayo make a small favor towards their own cause, applauding a strategy with the main difference of precisely directly attacking activists.
Instead of giving a confidence vote to federal and local governments who have already shown their true face of being repressive and intolerant, we should accompany the brave people of the communities, especially the indigenous peoples, who have had the courage to self-organize into defending peace and the social welfare of people. Rather than trying to get along well with the government and the power, we should listen to Elsa Márquez Manríquez, a woman from Xaltianguis who courageously says: “They killed one of my brothers, an uncle and a brother in law and the government only turns around and leaves us alone…we want the community police here, we feel protected having them around.”
Source: Proceso #1917 Pages 43-44