In Mexico, women take the front lines as vigilantes

EL TERRERO, Mexico (AP) – In the birthplace of Mexico’s dissolution “self-defense” movement, a new group is made up entirely of women, who carry assault rifles and defy obstacles they say is a bloody avatar The state of Michoacan by the violent Jalisco cartel.

Some of the four dozen female warriors are pregnant; Some take their young children with them to the barricade. The rural area is surrounded by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen may enter at a time when in 2013 Michoacán did not see suicide rates.

In El Terrero’s hamlet, many female vigilantes have lost a son, brother or father in battle. Euphrasina Blanco Nava said her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year-old lime picker, was abducted by Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; He has never heard from her since.

“They have disappeared a lot of people, lots and young girls too,” said Blanco Nava.

One woman, who did not use her name because she has relatives in areas dominated by the Jalisco Cartel, said the cartel abducted and vanished her 14-year-old daughter, saying, “We’re going to defend those Those we have left, the children we have left are with our lives. ”

“We women get tired of seeing our children, our families disappear,” Vigilance said. “They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.”

Namely, in part, why women are taking up arms; Males are becoming rare in warm areas of lich growing of Michoacán.

“As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” the woman said. “They are missing. We don’t know if they have (as a recruit) or if they’ve already killed them.”

In addition to barricades and barricades, the female vigilante has a homemade tank mounted on a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armor. In other nearby towns, residents have dug trenches in roadways heading to neighboring Jalisco to keep out the attackers.

Alberto Garcia, a male vigilante, has seen the middle side of the war: he hails from Maranjo de Chila, a city across the river from El Terrero and the birthplace of Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio Oguguerra. Garcia said he was driven out of the city by Jalisco cartel gunmen because he refused to join the group.

“He also killed one of my brothers,” said Garcia. “They cut her into pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.”

El Terrero has long been dominated by the New Michoacán Family and the Viagra Gangs, while the Jalisco Cartel controls the southern side of the Rio Grande River. In 2019, Viagra hijacked and burned half a dozen trucks and buses to block the bridge over the river to prevent the Jalisco convoy from entering a surprise attack.

And in the same year, in the next city, San Jose de Chila, rival gangs used a church as an armed redoubt to fight an ignominious battle by Jalisco gunmen. Falling into the church tower and with its roof, they tried to protect the city against rip-off, leaving the church full of bullets.

It stark divides, where everyone is forced to choose sides – either Jalisco, or the New Michoacan family and Viagra – which many are convinced the El Terrero vigilante pedestrians to one of those latter two gangs Huh.

Vigilantly denies the accusations that they are part of a criminal gang, although they clearly see the Jalisco Cartel as their enemy. They say that they would be more than happy for the police and soldiers to come and do their jobs.

El Terrero is not far from the city of La Ruana, where the actual self-defense movement was started in 2013 by lime producer Hipolito Mora. After successfully chasing the Knights Templar Cartel, Mora, like most original leaders, has distanced himself from so-called self-defense groups and is now a candidate for governor.

“I can almost assure you that they are not legitimate self-defense activists,” Mora said. “They are organized crime. … Some self-defense groups that exist have allowed themselves to infiltrate; They are criminals disguised as self-defense

The current governor of Michoacán, Silvano Auroles, is more empowered. “They are criminals, Kaal. Now, to make themselves fall and stop their illegal activities, they call themselves self-defense groups, as if there were some passports for impurity. “

But in some ways, Mora says, the same circumstances that led to the original 2013 movement: officers and police fail to enforce the law and do not guarantee peace to residents.

Sergio Garcia, a male member of the El Terrero Vigonte group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed from Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that the police never gave him.

“We’re here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crooks, because if we don’t do that, no one else will,” Sophia said.


Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City.



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