Wednesday 13 February 2013

Mexico’s Interior Ministry acknowledges legitimacy of civil defence groups

Martínez Veloz
Mexico’s recently-appointed Commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples (Comisionado Para el Diálogo con los Pueblos Indígenas), Jaime Martínez Veloz, has come out and stated that it is violence and crime that present a real risk to Mexican society, not civil defence groups.

"I see the risk of violence, insecurity, drug trafficking, organized crime – for me, that's more worrisome," Martínez Veloz told Mexican new outlets.

In the past month, in response to the plague of insecurity in their communities, indigenous populations in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Jalisco, have formed civil defence units to protect themselves.

“These responses shouldn’t shock us,” said the Commissioner, who works within the federal Interior Ministry. “Let’s see why they are occurring to see if they are legitimate or not.  In some there is a political motivation, in others it is social – all are real to each community.”

Martínez Veloz noted that Oaxaca’s governor, Gabino Cué, had not requested federal support for the situation in his state after the emergence of an armed civilian group in the municipality of Santos Reyes Nopala. If that were to occur, however, Martínez Veloz said that the federal government would be respectful of the community’s autonomy.

The federal government has yet to decide if it will provide protection for the Peoples Union of Guerrero (Unión de los Pueblos del Estado de Guerrero, “Upoeg”), despite the fact that the organization’s leaders had requested guarantees after receiving death threats.

Martínez Veloz acknowledged that the individuals taking a stand to protect their communities are exposing themselves so substantial risk, and that the state has a role to play in reducing the threat of violence. The former candidate with the left-leaning PRD was appointed to his position on January 13, 2013 by the centrist PRI government of president Enrique Peña Nieto, who has recently come out in support of more preventive crime measures.

"What we need are mechanisms to generate trust and security for all the people who are participating [in community groups]," he said.

Martínez Veloz further noted that one of the leaders of the Upoeg had been receiving serious threats, but “nobody talked to me,” adding that “We cannot allow threats of this nature under any circumstances.”

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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