In an audio recording attributed to a top leader of the Familia Michoacana, the group’s self-serving ideology is heard in full force.
The audio features Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” who embraces the Familia’s language of victimization while attempting to taunt the security forces, at one point saying ominously, “If they think that’s the way they’re going to come into Michoacan, and that our plazas will be occupied and that our towns will be occupied by the Zetas – because it’s them are who are behind all of this – how wrong they are.”
Gomez is expected to gain even more power and influence within the Familia after the death last week of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, referred to in the recording as “El Doctor.” In a three-minute audio clip first aired Wednesday by broadcast news program Noticieros Televisa, a speaker, believed to be Gomez, appears to give a fiery speech to Familia supporters.
According to Noticieros Televisa, the clip was recorded on an open radio frequency Thursday December 9, when Moreno was allegedly killed at a party for Familia members in Apatzingan. Noticieros Televisa aired what appears to be two audio segments. The main speaker sounds very similar to other recordings of Gomez, including a 2009 TV interview and these recordings of conversations between Gomez and a Michoacan legislator.
Gomez, once a village school teacher, has repeatedly shown concern for the Familia’s public image and at times has assumed the unofficial role of spokesman. He has previously called TV programs and defended the Familia’s actions, decrying the group’s arch rivals, the Zetas, who once dominated Michoacan before being driven out by the Familia circa 2006. He also allegedly helped orchestrate a public relations campaign in early November, when the Familia made a show of asking the government for a month-long truce.
The audio is a good illustration of why Mexican security forces will have an especially difficult time rooting out the Familia, even after Moreno’s death. In Gomez’s speech, there are reminders of the Familia’s infamous quasi-religious, cult-like nature: Moreno is spoken of with reverence and recruits are urged to carry on the Familia’s “just cause” like an evangelical crusade.
More important however is the Familia’s discourse of victimhood. The fight against the security forces is presented as a natural evolution of the fight against the Zetas – in both cases, the Familia are driving out a hated occupier. Gomez’s speech also makes reference to a high level of organization within the Familia: operatives appear to be assigned to patrol specific areas, others are asked to handle logistics like food supplies. So long as the Familia can make use of its “us versus them” ideology – which, unlike other criminal enterprises in Mexico, is firmly rooted in a specific place with grassroots support – the Mexican government may have a hard time winning “hearts and minds” in Michoacan.
“Comrades, on with it, pay a little bit attention to our comrade who just spoke, to ‘Brujito.’ He’s right, these were the things of ‘El Doctor,’ it was what he taught us. He is with God now in His holy glory. Wherever he may be, he knows that he can rely on us. Pay attention to the boy.
“This is our land. If they come to attack us and don’t understand, we’re going to open fire, but you already know at who. But we’re not going to let up for any reason.
“Come with us to the protests that are organized, invite people, people are full of pain and anger. We’re going to support the people as much as we can. We will invite everybody – our cousin, our brother, our nephew. And keep moving from one place to the next, don’t be targets, targets that are easy to find. Understand the reasons why sometimes we can’t talk, we need to be moving certain distances so that it’s not that easy to find us. Everybody get ready. Be armed and ready, keep weapons at your side, don’t lay them down, don’t lay down your arms.
“Please, let it be known to all our comrades everywhere, everybody who’s in charge of an area, be responsible for your area. Don’t let there be any lack of food, don’t let anything be lacking for our comrades who are out there. Everybody who is listening, don’t despair. Some day something would’ve had to happen. And if it did happen, this isn’t finished. We’re going to keep on going forward. Everybody united, everybody united with much strength, with much eagerness we will achieve what ‘El Doctor’ wanted and what, with much kindness, he taught us. Although in some ways there were plenty of people who didn’t understand his message, and who wrote him off as a criminal or a bad person, that is a lie. Those of us who knew him know deep down what a great heart he had. We will keep on going forward, don’t be disheartened, comrades, we are going to keep on going forward. Everything will stay the same, don’t worry, God is with us and… until victory!”
Man shouting: “Until victory brothers!”
Woman speaking: “What beautiful words Profe. It gives me… gives a lot of heart to the people, and, long live the Familia Michoacana!”
Second audio clip:
“Remember boys, that our maximum leader is no longer here – that is to say, ‘El Doctor.’ May God be with him, wherever he may be. We have to keep on going forward. We have to do it for our family and for our people. We’re going to be cautious and careful. Don’t get upset. We also understand that sometimes it becomes necessary to quiet down a little, because sometimes a lot of people can be all over you.
“Let us give heart to our comrades so that this can keep on going forward, all of us going forward, all of us headed to the same end, all of us for our people, all of us for – We have a just cause, a social cause with all the wrong they have done us. They didn’t want to respect the pact that we wanted for a month, they didn’t want to do anything about it, so what did they do? Attack.
“Well, for the love of God! What a pretty response from the government. If they think that’s the way they’re going to come into Michoacan, and that our plazas will be occupied and that our towns will be occupied by the Zetas – because it’s them are who are behind all of this – how wrong they are.
“Show them what we are. We are a family. Show unity. Show them what we are, sirs, please.
“Let’s not fall into that trap of fighting among each other, of blaming each other, and don’t be disheartened, this is moving on forward. Nobody can abandon any area! Nobody. We are all responsible for our areas and in any way possible, we are going to stay where we are because this is where we’re from.
“God bless you and may everyone have a good night.”