Should society respect the institutions, or rather is it the institutions that should respect the society? Is there rule of law in a State where they kidnap, extort and murder with impunity? Why devalue the voluntary and respectable work of the community police, instead of providing them with necessary political and military support? Why isn’t the State promoting legal frameworks and coordinating with them?
- Proliferation and multiplication of criminal organization groups that now extend across a majority of the more than 100 municipalities in the state and that combine movement of drugs and illegal logging with extortion of agricultural producers, traders and families;
- The impotence, indifference and even complicity of state and municipal governments with these criminal groups;
- A legitimate citizen reaction of self-defense, now represented by the community police, that add new towns and municipalities every day.
Meetings between Cartels and Government Leaders
Confirmation of the first phenomenon runs through the family networks and communication channels among neighbors, friends and coworkers. The media have been responsible for confirming the second: from the meeting that
took place between the La Familia Michoacana
and 14 elected mayors, including several current state government officials (Proceso
), to the revelation of a Senate meeting with members of The Knights Templars
[Los caballeros templarios
] on October 17 (La Jornada Michoacán
), most recently to an investigation of two meetings (July and October of 2011) between the Acting Governor and now Secretary of Government and top leaders of The Knights Templar during the state election campaign (Milenio)
The third phenomenon, which assumes citizen and social control of territory, reproduces what happened in Chiapas with the Zapatista caracoles [regional self-government structures], and in Guerrero with the self-defense organizations that exist today in some 160 communities in 23 municipalities.
Springing forth under the inspiration and learning gained from the indigenous communities of the Purhépecha Meseta [Highlands] with Cherán in the lead, the self-defense groups of Michoacán now extend through the municipalities of Buenavista, Tepalcátepec, Aguililla, Coalcomán, Chinicuila, Tancítaro, Urapicho and several other communities on the coast. If the Michoacán movements connect with their equivalents in Chiapas and Guerrero and with the various regional organizations in Oaxaca, it foretells and sketches a new corridor of community, municipal and regional self-management–an extensive area where social and citizen power takes precedence
It is likely that the case of Michoacán, with its nuances and differences, might already be the emblematic example. Some 5,000 years ago, when the first unequal societies appeared, where a minority exploited the majority, the heart of the social model has been the same: an interplay between three powers, the political, economic and social.
The class that governs and administers duties or taxes; the economic sector, which accumulates wealth at different rates and intensities; and the bulk of the citizens. State, capital and civil society are three forces whose dynamics give form and content to each society.
Exploitive 1% Today, in modern times, characterized by a maximum concentration of mega-monopolies represented by some 500 corporations, the political class, regardless of its color or ideology, now plays at capital’s side. Hard data, coming from scientific research, confirm the expression that once seemed outlandish: today 1 percent of the species exploits the other 99 percent.
Everything indicates that as the world becomes more complex, unpredictable, uncertain and fragile, many of the institutions, such as formal democracy, the market, centralized justice, the banks, will become obsolete.
As in Michoacán, the human, urban and rural communities are realizing that existing institutions, overwhelmed by all kinds of problems, are non-functional and that organized citizens must take in their hand the management of resources, key decisions, justice, food production, education, prevention and so on. The State and capital are already overwhelmed.
Today is the hour for citizen self-management. Viewed from that perspective, the self-defense groups of Michoacán, heroic and dignified, represent a fresh and hopeful alternative that should be recognized and supported