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Guerrero and the New Dirty War

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December 11, 2013

On the afternoon of Saturday, November 16, campesinos [peasant, often indigenous, farmers] Juan Lucena Ríos and José Luis Sotelo Martínez arrived in a white Nissan pickup truck at a meeting in Atoyac, Guerrero State. A man was waiting for them. For nothing more than recognizing them, he shot them with a 9mm pistol, each received four accurate shots. The two died. The gunman fled.
Juan and Jose Luis were representatives of the community of El Paraíso [Paradise], in which about 6,000 people live.
 
Nestled in the heart of the coffee growing region of the Costa Grande, many of its inhabitants are dedicated to the cultivation of the aromatic coffee. Nearby the opium poppy is cultivated.
 
The production of marijuana was abandoned, because it is no longer business. La Familia and the Nueva Generación are fighting over the territory.
El Paraíso’s leaders were killed one day before announcement of the formation of a community police group. They wanted to confront organized crime with their own hands, as have many other communities. Just a little over a month ago, Sotelo Martínez’s 27 year-old daughter was kidnapped by a marginal group, which they call Los Rojos [The Reds], presumably associated with the Beltrán Leyva cartel. About 300 residents took up arms and rescued her. They concluded that they had no other option than to defend themselves.
The rains from Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid damaged the coffee plantations and caused severe damage in El Paraíso. Juan and Jose Luis were the leaders of the village. In addition to promoting self-protection, they struggled to gain support to offset the loss of the coffee trees, and fight the attempt by the state government to relocate the town to other areas, far from its current location.
Juan and Jose Luis are not the only community leaders assassinated during the administration of PRD Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero. So far seventeen elected representatives have been killed. This record includes, among others:
Rocío Mesino, leader of the Campesino Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS), killed on October 19, after announcing formation of a community police group in Atoyac.
 
Ana Lilia Gatica and her colleague Luis Olivares,leaders of the People’s Organization of Producers of Costa Grande (OPPCG), executed extra-judicially on November 10.
In the vast majority of cases, those responsible for the crimes are not prosecuted.
Governor Aguirre’s saga of blood began on December 12, 2011, with the violent eviction of young normalistas [students at teachers college] from Ayotzinapa. As a result of police shootings in that operation, Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino and Gabriel Echeverría de Jesús were killed.
These crimes, presumably committed by local power groups, are not isolated events. Regions of Guerrero with the highest tradition of popular self-organization have been partially militarized. Under the pretext of the Crusade Against Hunger, the Armed Forces have opened people’s kitchens in the Montaña [Mountain] region and subjected the civilian population to strict controls. Guerrero is a region for the production, consumption and transit of narcotics, and organized crime has gained strength, while at the same time, as in the case of El Paraíso, transit routes, markets and territories are disputed. Ironically, while the Army and the police concentrate their operations in the state in counterinsurgency tasks, the drug cartels grow and act with greater impunity.
Government repression has struck against community police and citizens. On August 21, a police and military offensive began that led to the jailing of more than forty members of community police groups.
 
Governor Aquirre
Currently, imprisoned are community advocate Nestora Salgado, comandante of community police in Olinalá, and twelve advocates of community justice and members of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC). Eleven of them are from the Na Savi (indigenous people), and two are mestizos (of mixed blood).. Some have been accused of being kidnappers and terrorists. Several have been sent to out of state prisons.
This crackdown on community police has been justified by saying that they are front organizations for guerrillas. Retired admiral and former commander of the Eighth Naval District headquartered in Acapulco and now State Secretary of Public Security, Sergio Lara Montellanos, told Proceso that armed-political organizations are “taking advantage of” the context of insecurity and violence to organize processes of a “political and ideological nature” in order to “generate social instability” in Guerrero.
Guerrero is returning to the years of the “Dirty War” that took place during the late seventies and early eighties, in which the Army was involved in acts contrary to its honor, ethics and justice. And this return is being effected under a government formally headed by the PRD [Party of the Democratic Revolution, Mexico’s so-called Leftist Party]. The entire country is still experiencing the consequences of that shameful episode in our history. Would that we not repeat it.
Sources: El Diario, Jornada, Mexico Voices

About Doc

Spreading the word about the dangers of methamphetamine.

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