Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Weekender: Militias of Michoacán

“The Weekender” is our new feature where every weekend we hope to highlight a short film, movie or documentary pertaining to the Americas.

In the early morning hours of February 27th Mexican authorities captured the country’s most wanted criminals: Knights Templar drug gang chief Servando “La Tuta” Gomez. The former teacher turned drug capo led a cartel that served as the de facto rulers of Michoacán state by bribing politicians, intimidating business leaders and ruthlessly eradicating any perceived enemies. The turning point started in early 2013 with the emergence of armed “self defense” groups of local residents allied with rival criminals. The vigilantes helped break up the power held by the Knights Templar though it remains to be seen what role they will take following Gomez’s arrest. Will they incorporate themselves to the government’s rural police force, continue their armed fight against the remnants of the Knights or succumb due to infighting amongst their leaders?

Below the page break is a VICE News video made about one year ago that looked at the rise of “La Tuta” and the Knights Templar, the group’s effects on Michoacán communities and the challenges faced by the “self defense” groups. (Perhaps it’s worth noting that even though the government legalized the vigilantes after the video was published, tensions continue between the federal law enforcement authorities and the local militias).

Video Source – YouTube user VICE News
Online Source – BBC News

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