October 27, 2013
In the video Dr. Jose Mireles gives the account of what happened in his words.
We got there late because we had to talk a lot with the Army , as they were not going to let us pass with our weapons. In fact, they didn’t let us pass until we agreed that we were only going to do a march for the freedom of Apatzingán. And they guaranteed that nobody would attack us. They disarmed all of us, and 3,000 of us came in our pickups on a dirt road that goes to the traffic circle/plaza at Chabgo. There was nothing there. Fortunately, there, we detained the guy in charge of collections on the plaza, from right here in Apatzingán. With the Los Templarios mafia. We still have him detained.
It turns out that I came here to the radio station one half block from there to deliver my message about the march/meeting for the liberation of Apatzingán, and just as we were finishing my message, we began to hear bomb blasts, grenade blasts. They were launching grenades at us from the roof of the cathedral.
That’s when we got there and parked our trucks outside the main square. And I began calling on the radio I have in my truck, telling people to settle down, that we are not criminals, we don’t murder anybody, and that we are never going to become that which we are fighting against.
So, we were right here and we heard the bomb blasts and machine gun fire, and it turns out that the attack begins big time. Fortunately, there were a lot of federal and military personnel around the plaza and they were the ones who responded to the attack. They are still responding to it. There are still grenade explosions and sporadic gunfire, and you can hear them all the way here, where we are hiding inside the radio station.
But we are worried. An ambulance, on our side, just went by to the local hospital because there were some of our men… Although the grenades, thank God, did not fall in the direction that our demonstration was being held. If even one of those grenades they are shooting at us hits among us, it could easily kill 50 of us.
I think there has only been 3 wounded, one seriously and two with minor injuries, but we’re waiting for a report. So we are still here, we cannot leave. It is a difficult situation for us because they did not let us keep our weapons to defend ourselves with, and now that we are being attacked, we cannot defend ourselves.
Fortunately, I repeat, there is a lot of Army and federal presence here, and they are the ones who are carrying out the defense at this time, Priscilla.
–Dr. Mireles, these three persons who have been reported as wounded, are they members of the self-defense groups, residents of Apatzingán, or members of organized crime?
It is only three of our men who were there to one side of the little plaza. One of the grenades hit right on the head of one of the monuments that is in the center of the Plaza de la Constitucion (Constitution Square). It’s all we know… but the Army and the federals have taken charge. But we are still scared because we have done nothing wrong and we know we are easy targets for these people. We don’t know if the Army hit any of the aggressors when they responded. We don’t know because we are cooped up in here. I don’t have any information, Priscilla, and as soon as I have any I will inform you so you can take the story and broadcast it.
With this, it is clear that we have all the support possible from the Mexican Army and the federals, but it’s not the same as allowing us to defend ourselves. If they allow us to defend ourselves, we know who they are, the ones who want to murder us, finish us off, and we cannot defend ourselves from them.
Fortunately, they (Army) are responding to the aggression, but like a high ranking commander said, “We know we cannot arrest any of you while…If you were to deliver a Templario to me and were to tell me, ‘Commander, this is a Templario,’ I will take him and I will turn him loose because there are no arrest warrants. But if it happens in the middle of an attack, we can intervene.”
— Dr. Mireles, this person that you said was detained, was he the plaza boss for the Caballeros Templarios in Apatzingán?
No, he’s not the plaza boss, he’s the guy that collects the cuotas. The plaza boss from here in Apatzingán was wounded on Saturday, early in the morning last Saturday. Not yesterday, today, but a week ago. That plaza boss is called; they call him “El Puma”. In that attack that he carried out against our positions in San Juan de los Platanos, somebody wounded him and he left his pistol there on the ground, which one of my cousins now carries around like a war trophy. It is difficult for us to believe that a plaza boss will come out to attack one of our small ranches/villages.
Those people have been in control of Apatzingán for so long, yet nobody has managed to disarm them, Priscilla.
— Dr. Mireles, explain to us, please, what’s the reason the self-defense forces are in Apatzingán, why did they come to the city?
Look; for three months, some people have been sending us petitions for support. They think that with our presence the town will unite and create its own self-defense forces. Based on 3,000 requests, we came here, to try to provide support. We were only going to do a march, a demonstration, in which we would commit ourselves, if less than 50% of the population of Apatzingán got together, we would go back to our municipalities (towns). But if more than 50% of the population came together, they would stay and protect their own towns. We were never going to stay and protect their towns.
We came in support of the Apatzingán uprising, that’s all, Priscilla. That is our motto, that the people should protect themselves, but with our support and with a federal presence. That’s the situation. We had planned only a peaceful march, a demonstration. I personally made phone calls all around the city from my pickup, inviting the people of Apatzingán to join the fight for the liberation of Michoacán from organized crime. That we would no longer allow, cuotas, no more executions, no more kidnappings, no more rapes, no more extortion, you understand? That’s what we are promoting here, based on the requests from those persons.
Sadly, we see that after those bomb blasts, well, the people of Apatzingán who were afraid of rising up (against crime), well, they are even more scared to rise up now. Let’s hope the federal government assumes its responsibilities to… what’s that printed on their vehicles? “Protect and serve” the community. They haven’t left us alone, I repeat, and they are confronting the criminals who have been attacking us since 3:30.
— Dr. Mireles, you were in the center of the city, that is, on the main square in Apatzingán, when you were suddenly attacked…
Our people were concentrated there. Exactly a short half-block from the plaza, from the city hall (municipal palace), is the radio station where I went to deliver my message, the traditional message I give when I arrive at a city. So people wouldn’t be afraid… Look at what I was telling them!! “Come, don’t be afraid, because the Army and the feds have brought agents from the Public Ministry so you can file your complaints (denunciations), and that this time they will arrest the criminals. That’s the agreement we have with the high commands of these organizations.”
We were summoning the people to come and file their criminal complaints because only with a claim, a denunciation, could they issue arrest warrants.
But fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the people of Apatzingán, they started this attack with grenades, with M-50 and M-6- rifles, and M-40 grenade launchers. Then, all the panorama changes. Then, we have to stay in Apatzingán to help the Army, to clean up, as long as it takes, while the people of Apatzingán come together and consolidate their own self-defense.
— Dr. Mireles, are you the only member of the self-defense council there, or are there other council members representing La Ruana, Buenavista…?
Priscilla, there are 13 (?) other military vehicles arriving here at the plaza. We are looking at them from our position here, and there are helicopters flying over all the buildings looking for snipers and those guys with grenades. I hope they arrest all of them. Those people attack in groups, Priscilla, that’s what we have seen during the eight month period that ended October 24. They attack and run, attack and run. Generally, they always leave us some weapons and some of their bodies. But, for sure, they never leave their wounded behind, Priscilla.
Well, that’s all, Priscilla; We have the same need, that I’ve been begging for for eight months, an angel, we need ambulances. We don’t have a way to transport the people who [are wounded] in these attacks. And today, it was worse because we did not have weapons.
We’ve already sent some of our units there to the hospital, Priscilla, but we don’t have weapons, Priscilla. We don’t have them because they did not allow us to bring them. But we are keeping an eye on it, Priscilla.