Military Assumes Security in Troubled Mexican Region

By Dialogo
May 21, 2013

On May 16, a Mexican Army general was appointed head of security in Miochoacán, an area in western Mexico troubled by the emergence of armed groups that present themselves as self-defense groups.

Brigadier General Alberto Reyes Vaca was named Secretary of Public Security, after Secretary of Government Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced a new strategy against the alarming insecurity affecting the country, on May 15.

“There will not be any secretary with such public force as the one in Michoacán,” said Osorio Chong, who also stated he would have state military and police forces under his command.

The new Secretary of Security pledged his commitment to create a reliable police force so that the “victims of crime are not also victims of an out-of-date and indifferent system.”

Miochacán was the first state where former President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), originally from that area, deployed his military offensive against organized crime in 2006, triggering an increase in country-wide violence, which resulted in over 70,000 people killed during his tenure.

Michoacán’s population totals 4.3 million inhabitants, who are overwhelmed in some areas by extortions, kidnappings, and murders perpetrated by criminal organizations, mainly the ‘Los Caballeros Templarios’ cartel.

Last February, groups of armed men calling themselves self-defense groups showed up in Buenavista and Tepalcatepec municipalities saying they were willing to confront blackmailers and kidnappers.

For their part, ‘Los Caballeros Templarios’ spread messages saying that these self-defense groups were associated with the rival cartel ‘Nueva Generación,’ originally from the neighboring state of Jalisco.

One of these self-defense groups seized the town hall of Ario de Rosales municipality on May 16, one of five such incidents from these organizations .

Dozens of men with sticks, machetes, and weapons blocked the entrance to the town of 34,000 inhabitants and seized the town hall, Fernando Cano Ochoa, Michoacán’s Secretary of Government, told AFP.

Michoacán State Governor Fausto Vallejo, is out on sick leave for 90 days, so an interim official is facing the complicated situation in what is one of the poorest states in the country and a traditional route for drug smuggling.