Mexico Self-Defense Groups Coach Businesses On Counter-Extortion

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Businesses associations in Guerrero will reportedly meet with citizen self-defense groups in order to discuss how to best combat extortion, a marked difference from the aggressive approach taken against vigilante organizations in other parts of Mexico. 

Fernando Melendez Cortes, president of business association COPARMEX in Chilpancingo municipality, said there had been a rise in extortions, with 350 businesses closing and 800 jobs lost on average each month, reported La Jornada Guerrero and El Universal. Vigilante groups have had some success lowering crime rates in Guerrero’s Costa Chica and Montana regions, claimed El Universal.

In the next few days COPARMEX will hold various meetings with self-defense group leaders to discuss different security methods to counter extortion threats and kidnapping, although no details were given as to what those methods might be. Leader of vigilante coalition Union of Peoples and Organizations in the State of Guerrero (UPOEG), Bruno Placido Valerio, told La Jornada that the groups would analyze whether a community police force could be established. The two organizations are also sending a joint letter to the state and federal government demanding more funds to combat crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

Citizens across Mexico have responded to the government’s failure to effectively fight crime by creating their own self-defense groups, with mixed results and a mixed response from authorities. The meetings between UPOEG and COPARMEX are one example of the cooperation between self-defense groups and wider society in Guerrero, where the state government has welcomed the movement, going so far as legalizing the self-defense forces and setting them official responsibilities.

However, in Michoacan state, where the vigilante groups also have a strong presence, government officials have been fighting them off, with Governor Jesus Reyna Garcia recently stating that the vigilante groups in the state were “gradually fading away” as a result of a mass military deployment. The vigilantes in Michoacan have been fighting both the Knights Templar drug cartel and state authorities, who they accuse of corruption. 

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