After months of tacit co-operation with rural vigilantes trying to drive out a cult-like drug cartel, the Mexican government has moved to permanently solve one of its toughest security problems with a plan to legalize the growing movement and bring it under the army’s control.
But the risks are high.
To succeed, the government must enforce military discipline and instil respect for human rights and due process among more than 20,000 heavily armed civilians before returning them home to the western state of Michoacan.
In other Latin American countries, similar experiments have created state-backed militias that carried out massive human-rights abuses as armed civilians turned to vengeance, or assisted in mass killings. The Mexican army itself has been accused of rights abuses during the more than seven-year war against organized crime that has seen it deployed as a police force in much of the country.
Vigilante leaders met Tuesday with government officials to hash out details of the agreement, which would put avocado and lime pickers with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles under army command. The Mexican military has a century-old tradition of mobilizing “rural defence corps” of peasants to fight bandits and uprisings in the countryside.
– Read the entire article at The Globe and Mail.