Michoacán: 'community police' open war on narcos

Some 100 gunmen from a "community police" force in Mexico's Michoacán state on Jan. 12 seized the town of Nueva Italia—precipitating a shoot-out with gunmen from the Knights Templar cartel who had been in control there. Two members of the vigilante force were wounded before the Templarios retreated, leaving the "community police" in control of thw town. It is unclear if there were casualties on the cartel's side. It seems there were no "official" police in the town, nor any army troops. Traveling in a convoy of pick-up trucks and armed with rifles, the "community police" also seized several hamlets in Parácuaro, Apatzingán and other municipalities—where several trucks and other vehicles deemed to belong to cartel collaborators were burned. Jan. 10 saw a confrontation for control of the municipal palace in the center of Apatzingán. The vigilantes also briefly set up a roadblock on the coastal highway, where more vehicles were stopped and burned—a total of 13 across the state in three days of violence.

Mexico: nine dead in prison massacre

A "commando" of six gunmen gained access to a Mexican prison after midnight on Jan. 3, killed four inmates in their sleep, and then tried to shoot their way out, sparking a fire-fight with guards that left five of the attackers dead. The assailants infiltrated the Social Rehabilitation Center (CERESO) in Tuxpan, disguised in uniforms of the Guerrero state Ministerial Police, telling guards they were bringing in a prisoner. Army troops were subsequently sent in to secure the facility. The slain inmates were said to be serving time for drug trafficking and kidnapping charges. (Borderland Beat, Jan. 4; BBC News, La Jornada, Jan. 3) This is the latest in a wave of cases of cartels taking their bloody turf wars to the inside of Mexico's prisons.

Mexico: Guerrero campesino leader gunned down

An unidentified man assassinated Rocío Mesino Mesino, the director of the leftist South Sierra Campesino Organization (OCSS), in the early afternoon of Oct. 19 near the community of Mexcaltepec, Atoyac de Alvarez municipality, in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero. Mesino was hit by four bullets, apparently from an AK-47 assault rifle. The killer escaped in a vehicle driven by another man; the military and the municipal police searched for the assailants but reported no success.

Mexico: army clashes with 'community police'

Mexican army troops on Aug. 27 disarmed members of the "community police" force after a brief scuffle on the coastal highway in Guerrero state. Some 800 members of the self-defense patrol and their supporters were marching from the pueblo of El Paraíso, Ayutla de los Libres municipality, to  Cruz Grande, Florencio Villareal municipality, when approximately 200 troops in armored vehicles surrounded them, and demanded they surrender their rifles and machetes. In a few minutes of physical struggle, some 300 patrol members were disarmed, and 10 detained. Women, children and elders also participated in the march, which was called to demand liberty for movement leader Nestora Salgado García and 13 "community police" members from Olinalá pueblo.

Mexico: three Guerrero activists found murdered

The bodies of three activists in the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) were found on June 3 beside a road in the southwestern state of Guerrero. One of the victims, Arturo Hernández Cardona, was the leader of the Popular Union (UP) in the city of Iguala; the other two, Félix Rafael Bandera Román and Ángel Román Ramírez, were members of the organization. The men were last seen on May 30 when they blocked a tollbooth on the Mexico City-Acapulco highway to demand that Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, also a PRD member, provide fertilizers for campesinos. Media reports suggest that the killings might have been a common crime, since drug gangs are active in Guerrero. But Sofía Lorena Mendoza Martínez, Hernández Cardona's widow, insisted the motivation was political. "[W]e are never going to accept that [the victims] could be linked to organized crime," said Mendoza Martínez, who is a local rural development official. Some 1,000 people attended the three activists' funeral on June 4. (BBC News, June 3, La Jornada, Mexico, June 5)

Mexico: Guerrero teachers trash party offices

Thousands of teachers marched in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, on April 24 to protest the Guerrero legislature's vote the day before to ratify a national education "reform" plan proposed by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. The march—sponsored by the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), an organization of dissident local members of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE)—stopped at the headquarters of various political parties, where masked participants vandalized offices. The main damage was at the office of Peña Nieto's party, the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); the attackers, armed with clubs, broke windows, threw furniture, papers and plants into the street, tore up a photograph of the president and started a fire in the office, which firefighters put out. There were also attacks on the offices of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and social democratic Citizens' Movement (formerly Convergence for Democracy).

Mexico: Guerrero teachers form alliances

Dissident teachers in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero continued their protests against planned changes in the educational system on April 10 with a march in Chilpancingo, the state capital, that brought together a broad range of grassroots and labor groups. According to the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), the protest's sponsor, 100,000 people participated, making the march the largest in the state since 1984; Guerrero's Governance Secretariat estimated the crowd at 40,000. At a concluding rally in the city's Zócalo, the main plaza, the organizers announced the formation of a new coalition, the Guerrero Popular Movement (MPG). Commentators noted that a popular uprising that paralyzed the neighboring state of Oaxaca in the summer and fall of 2006 featured a similar coalition, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO); the national daily El Economista wrote that the groups forming the coalition in Guerrero were even more radical than the ones that made up the Oaxaca organization.

Mexico: teachers block Acapulco highway

Five people were arrested and five injured on April 5 when some 2,000 agents of Mexico's Federal Police (PF) removed more than 3,000 dissident teachers who were blocking a highway in the southwestern state of Guerrero to protest planned changes in the educational system. The demonstration, organized by the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), tied up traffic along the highway from Mexico City to the resort city of Acapulco from about 1 pm until the police action at about 6:30 pm; the road is heavily traveled during the spring vacation period around Easter. The protest took place at the spot near the state capital, Chilpancingo, where two students and a gas station worker were killed on Dec. 12, 2011 in a confrontation between police and students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College, in the Guerrero village of Ayotzinapa. (La Jornada, Mexico, April 6)

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