January 23, 2014
Sra. Maria del Carmen shares her tragedy, because one of her sons belongs to one group and her daughter to the enemy side.
18/01/2014 7:15 JC Vargas and Miguel GarciaTinoco /Correspondents
TANCÍTARO, January 18 –
The story of Dona Maria del Carmen illustrates one consequence of the conflict in Michoacán: a tragic division between families.
Her son Ephraim spends hours clutching a rifle and risking his life, in the event that members of the Caballeros Templarios should show up. At the same time Valeria, her only daughter, has joined the ranks of this criminal organization and even forced her own mother to leave their home.
“No sooner had my husband died, my daughter came and threw me out of the house. She said she belonged to the “people” (Templarios), and needed to sell the house to make a little money. Her husband and some gunmen came up to me and forced me to hand over the deeds to the home”, she said.
And the conflict persists unabated, in spite of the fact that this past Wednesday the paramilitary group announced it would hand over its weapons, as part of an agreement with federal and state authorities.
Yesterday, members of armed civilian groups from Parácuaro got within five kilometers of the municipal seat of Apatzingán . They advanced to the community known as Hacienda de la Huerta, and installed a barricade at its main access point to monitor who comes and goes.
Brother and sister on opposite sides
At every moment, Doña María del Carmen’s heart contracts and threatens to break into pieces. At times the widow leaves behind her peddler’s cart loaded with sweet and spicy tamales to approach one of the town barricades where her son Ephraim spends hours clutching a rifle, risking his life in the event that members of the Templarios should show up one day.
At the same time, tears come to her eyes when she recalls how one fateful day her daughter decided, along with her husband, to go over to the other side.
She recounts how her Valeria left to join the Templarios and how one afternoon she came back, “but only to throw me out of my house.”
She does not want her neighbors to find out that Valeria is now residing with the enemy, out of fear that they will retaliate against her daughter or decide to take the law into their own hands. But she can’t stop suffering every time she happens to see her in town and remembers what happened the last 15th of September.
“No sooner had my husband died, my daughter came back and threw me out of the house. She said she was a member of the “people” (Templars) and needed to sell the house to make a little money.”
“That evening she, her husband and some armed men came up to the house and took me to a school named El Molinito, where I was forced to hand over the deed to my home.”
It not only hurts that they have thrown her out of her own home, but even more so that it was her own daughter who instigated it.
“The only thing I could tell her was ‘May God forgive you for what you are doing’. Now, every time I see her, she simply ignores me.”
She says that street vending earns her enough to pay for a small room away from the street where her home was. “I just wish that God would take pity on me and remove me from this world.”
However, Maria del Carmen still takes care to pray for her son Ephraim and to ask that the Templarios never come near. “He says he wants to be a cop and I fear that one day something will happen to him.”
She knows that her son is just a few steps from where she sells her tamales, and every moment she can spare she brings him black coffee and bread. She tries not to look at him, because she gets extremely nervous just seeing him with a weapon in his hands.
Ephraim and Valeria are their mother’s only children, and they both know that they stand in enemy camps and that one day fate might catch up with them. They don’t speak and prefer to avoid each other.
“Fight over the house?…and why? With the pennies that I earn it suffices to pay the rent and to bring coffee to my son so that he can stay awake during the mornings.
“For whom have I cried the most? For her! I shall never forget that my own daughter threw me out of my house.”
Autodefensas, a stone’s throw from Apatzingán
Members of the self-defense league of Parácuaro have come to within just five kilometers of the municipal seat of Apatzingán after advancing to a community known as Hacienda de la Huerta.
These self-styled members of the Community reached this site located just steps from the urban area of Apatzingán, where they put to flight a cell of the Templarios group, who left behind five rifles and two vehicles.
In this way, the armed civilians who have been trying for three months to get to the heart of the Tierra Caliente are now about to succeed, and it is expected that by this weekend they will have reached the city, whose security is presently in the hands of federal forces.
“It was a peaceful takeover without bloodshed, some tactical equipment and weapons were secured in the area. Their owners (the Templarios) promptly fled; the weapons that we have on us are our dignity,” said one of the masked men who entered the Hacienda de la Huerta.
He added that this community, like other municipalities in the area, is plagued by the insecurity caused by the members of organized crime.
Members of this self-styled Community have installed a single barricade at the main entrance to the city to monitor who goes in and out and to identify those who might wish to engage in extortion or to commit all kinds of unlawful acts against the population, most of whom are quite poor.
On Wednesday, January 15 in Tepalcatepec, during a press conference given by Estanislao Beltrán Torres, general coordinator of the AUC in Michoacán, he declared that the organization would gradually hand over its weapons, in accordance with an agreement with federal and state authorities.
The coordinator, who also goes under the nickname, Papa Smurf, stressed that the group would not relinquish all of its weapons, so that citizens located in the districts occupied by the paramilitaries would not be left totally defenseless.
When questioned on that occasion by representatives of the media, Estanislao Beltran did not rule out the possibility that they could continue their advance towards other municipalities.
Starting in February 24, 2013, when the first two self-defense groups arose in Tepalcatepec and Buenavista, the main leaders of the Community identified Apatzingán as one of the prime objectives of their advance, in keeping with their determination that this area had the greatest presence of criminal groups.
|Eduardo Jiménez foto|
Note from Chivis:
I was contacted by Mr. Robert McGehee, a professional translator of several languages, who is working in the Czech Republic. He offered his services, on a limited basis, and pro bono, to assist in getting information out about the narco war in Mexico.
A big thank you to Robert!
English translation done by Robert Judson McGehee, 2014-01-23, Jicin, Czech Republic.