By Brittany Peterson
WASHINGTON (VR)—Over the last year, vigilante groups have become a survival method in Mexican towns.
Yet now, they aren’t just fighting the cartel. This week, they clashed with police forces too.
Mexican federal forces seized control of the war-torn state of Michoacan Tuesday, in an attempt to reestablish public order. This comes after vigilantes surrounded entire towns over a series of weeks in a bid to oust the Knights Templar drug cartel from their communities.
Radio VR’s Brittany Peterson delves into this issue with Peter Watt. He teaches Latin American Studies at the University of Sheffield and is co-author of the book, Drug War Mexico, and also writes for NACLA.org.
Watt elaborates on that the civilian militia groups formed to fill a desperate need to defend the security of individual towns, since government forces had failed to do so.
“By this point, people are being killed in Mexico at a rate quicker than the Guatemalan genocide. They are being disappeared at a more intense rate than during the Argentine military dictatorship. So I think people see that the apparent strategy to clamp down on organized crime and improve the security situation is completely at odds with reality.”-Peter Watt.
Peter Watt teaches Latin American Studies at the University of Sheffield. He is co-author of the book, Drug War Mexico: Politics, Violence and Neoliberalism in the New Narcoeconomy (Zed Books 2012).