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New Vigilante Force Rises in Michoacan, Mexico

Vigilante group mans roadblock Urapicho, Michoacan Vigilante group mans roadblock Urapicho, Michoacan

A second vigilante force has announced its arrival in a rural region of Michoacan, south Mexico, pointing to the government's failure to provide security to the population in the remote area, which is threatened by drug gangs like the Knights Templar.

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The indigenous community of Urapicho, in Paracho municipality, released a statement declaring that they had taken up arms due to the threat from criminal groups in the area, reported Cambio de Michoacan on October 18. The community has recently suffered a string of kidnappings and disappearances, according to W Radio Mexico.

The document contained five points outlining the group's intention to fight insecurity, to preserve their natural resources, and to win recognition as a community police force.

A video released by the community (see below) says that they aim to secure their region against outside threats. It also shows masked and armed men guarding makeshift roadblocks into the community, which they say have been in place for the past month.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is the second vigilante force to have sprung up in Michoacan in the past 18 months. The indigenous community in Cheran, some 10 kilometers from Paracho, barricaded their town last year and took up arms against gangs -- such as the Familia Michoacana and their offshoot the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) -- carrying out illegal logging in the area.

These cases of vigilantism raise questions about the Mexican government's will and ability to address the security concerns of remote communities. The people of Urapicho called on President Felipe Calderon to secure the area so that they did not have to continue protecting themselves. The government is yet to release a statement on the matter.

Taking security into their own hands leaves these populations vulnerable to retaliation from gangs. An August report by Proceso found that 15 people had been murdered in Cheran by gangs, and five have disappeared, since they took up arms.

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