January 15, 2014
I thought this article would be useful in understanding of the Michoacán situation. Although the government (or ‘governments’, state and federal) refuse to use the term ‘war’ to refer to the conflict in Michoacán, there is really no other word that is as appropriate to a situation that involves military forces, armed groups and police forces shooting it out for control of territory. It sure looks like a war to this Mexican. — un vato.
The three principal leaders of “La Familia”, as identified by the government, were Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, aka “El Chayo” or “El Mas Loco”, Jesus Mendez Vargas, aka “El Chango” and Servando Gomez Martinez, aka “La Tuta”.
Everything points to the conclusion that “La Familia” entered into a pact with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by “Chapo” Guzman, to share the territory and the strategic port of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan. (See: Guillermo Valdes, “Historia del Narcotrafico en Mexico” (“History of Drug Trafficking in Mexico”) 2013)). From that point, they also reached urban zones in the Federal District, the great center for consumption and power. In particular, they began to penetrate the Mexico municipality of Nezahualcoyotl. “La Familia” took over entire city councils. It bought mayors, congressional candidates, and organized the direct extortion of hundreds of businessmen. Evidence of the failure of Felipe Calderon to confront “La Familia’s” expansive and cellular power — in the style of Al Qaeda — was the judicial operation known as “El Michoacanazo” (“The Strike at Michoacán”) intended to imprison (Michoacán) mayors involved with (“La Familia”).
2010 -2012.- Enter “Los Templarios”. As had happened with the Gulf (Cartel) and “Los Zetas”, with the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Cartel, the “La Familia” Cartel fragmented and triggered a struggle for leadership and control of the business after the heads of the organization were taken down. A new group emerged, a copy of “La Familia’s” tactics and strategies for social and political infiltration: “Los Caballeros Templarios” (“The Knights Templar”). The 2011 local elections, in which the PRI recovered control of the state after two PRD administrations, and defeated Calderon’s sister, Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa (PAN candidate), marked the rise of the “Templarios” and their alleged (political) alliances, according to charges made by PRD and PAN partisans.
February 2013.- Emergence of the “Autodefensas” (Self Defense Forces).– After the start of the Pena Nieto six-year term, in the heart of the Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, a new armed group arises, organized by businessmen, avocado and lime growers and professionals in the area, to “regain control” from the “Templarios”. On February 24, (2013), in the town of La Ruana, Buenavista municipality, and in Tepalcatepec, the first civilian groups are formed. Unlike “La Familia” when it came onto the local stage, they did not dump heads nor have they practiced terror; instead, they have (implemented) a strategy of expulsion of the “Templarios”. Currently, they are grouped under the United Command of Michoacán Self Defense (Forces) (Comando Unido de Autodefensas de Michoacán). They claim to have 10,000 men armed with rifles, their most visible spokesman is Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, and they have advanced into ten municipalities, surrounding Apatzingán, the heart of the dispute. January 13, 2014.– Pena Nieto’s Michoacán Operation. A new operation has begun with a military, police and political deployment by the federal government in Michoacán. The self defense forces are refusing to disarm themselves and to surrender the occupied municipalities until “Los Templarios” are captured. Governor Fausto Vallejo has lost all capacity to govern.
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