Driving the Narcos out

 MINT PRESS NEWS

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CHERAN, MEXICO (Report) — On the road leading into this hardscrabble town in Mexico’s southwest corner, there stands a checkpoint staffed by heavily-armed guards, clad ominously in balaclavas, or ski masks. This scene is not particularly unusual for this violence-plagued country, but Cheran is no ordinary place: seven years ago this month, the mostly indigenous townspeople here grew tired of watching the loggers illegally cut down their trees, and frustrated with the extortion rackets run by the organized-crime cartels, and angry at the politicians who did nothing to protect them or the forest that is central to the local timber economy.

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And so the denizens of this community tucked away in the state of Michoacán evicted the bootleg loggers and the mobsters who hired them; they kicked out the police department and the mayor and the city council and the prosecutors and the judges and they decided to do it all themselves.

The gendarmes patrolling the city’s borders are, in fact, civilians.

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Cheran is no utopia, but virtually everyone here says they feel happier and safer with the new autonomous arrangement that is reminiscent of the Paris Commune, the radical workers’ movement that governed the City of Lights for two months in the spring of 1871 before authorities and industrialists managed to regain control.

“Little by little, people have realized that this new system is the most suitable for us … now we take care of each other,” David Ramos Guerrero, a local resident, told MintPress News.

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Easy pickings for the cartels, until . . 

Surrounded by lush forests, Cheran is about 200 miles west of Mexico City. Its population of roughly 16,000 is predominantly from the indigenous Purepecha community, who squeeze out a meager living from agriculture — corn, oats, beans, wheat, potatoes, apples, apricots, pears and plums — and timber. The Mexican cartels typically associated with the illicit drug trade want a cut of any lucrative commercial enterprise, and for years the talamontes, or illegal loggers working on behalf of the ruthless La Familia mob, had toppled the trees — by one estimate, they had destroyed half of the 59,000 acres of forest — surrounding the community, hauling them off with impunity, and ultimately jeopardizing Cheran’s water supply.

 

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The townspeople’s complaints to their representatives at City Hall repeatedly fell on deaf ears until finally, the women hatched a plan. On the morning of April 15, 2011, dozens of women gathered at the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Calvary at the town’s edge and waited. As the trucks passed hauling their illegal bounty, the signal was given, and the women, armed only with fireworks and rocks and white-hot indignation, attacked, driving out the loggers armed with AK-47s.

 

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On Sunday, April 15, thousands turned out for a ceremony to celebrate the insurrection set in motion on that day in 2011. “That was the moment that the community, tired of the pilfering of our forest, tired of being manipulated by organized crime and the government, decided to rise up in struggle,” David Ramos Guerrero told MintPress News.

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5 thoughts on “Driving the Narcos out

  1. I watched a really interesting Al Jazeera documentary recently showing how NAFTA virtually wiped out employment for most of norther Mexico. To keep their kids from starving, Mexican parents basically have 2 choices – to head north for the US or to work for the drug and smuggling gangs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the delay, Stuart! Missed this. You are so right. Plus, The US and Canada just worked out a whole new trade agreement w Mexico that keeps Mexico screwed. There IS a new socialist President but lets see how long it will be before the CIA destroys Mexico’s new government. Probably as soon as we finish demolishing Venezuela. Thanks for writing XO

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    1. Yes, they do! And there’s been a lot of interest from other towns in the region. Indigenious subsistence farmers, deeply rooted throughout Mexico’s mountain regions, have emerged as the most effective resistence. And they attract global support because they are often the only thing standing between critical forested regions and irreversable environmental destruction. Thanks for bringing that up, Rosaliene!

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