With rifles in hand, a group of 20 minors joined the ranks of self-defense groups this Wednesday in Ayahualtempa, in the state of Guerrero. The region's community police, an armed body founded 28 years ago by residents of 16 communities in southeast Guerrero and members of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities and Founding Peoples (CRAC), sworn in the new members a few days after becoming an armed group kidnapped four people from the Nahua community. The shocking image of children between the ages of 12 and 17 carrying a gun is drawing attention to authorities who have left several communities besieged by organized crime helpless.
As if they were soldiers, an adult shouts at the 15 boys and five girls lined up on a sports field to stand their ground. The children answer with their faces covered. Then they lift the weapon in their hands and place it on their shoulders. Some of them are no more than a meter tall, all of them wear a military green T-shirt with the words “Community Police”. They are not the first children to join self-defense groups in Mexico, but every time a new group of minors is promoted, society and social networks explode. The CRAC justified the drastic measure by claiming inefficiency on the part of the authorities. They have also assured that they will only carry out monitoring tasks.
The community police in this region have been fighting for several years against the drug cartels and criminal organizations that operate in one of the poorest places in the country. The most recent conflict they suffered was the kidnapping of a couple and their two children on January 19 as the family was herding their livestock. The residents have targeted the criminal group Los Ardillos, one of the criminal groups that denies drug trafficking in this facility. State and federal military operations failed to locate the abducted individuals for six days, prompting CRAC to take action and publicly complain, they said.
Three children from the Ayahualtempa self-defense group with their rifles in their hands. Dassaev Téllez Adame (CUARTOSCURO)
Organized crime has not stopped besieging some communities in Guerrero. Two crime groups, La Familia Michoacana and Los Tlacos, paralyzed the tourist town of Taxco this week after the murders of a public transport driver and two prosecutor's office police officers, whose bodies were found next to a highway Wednesday. Acapulco, still recovering from Hurricane Otis, is experiencing a similar situation. Public transport has not been fully developed for weeks because workers, tired of violence and threats, do not want to return to their jobs.
Gov. Evelyn Salgado has sought to silence criticism by withdrawing her state security minister, Evelio Méndez, who resigned amid the wave of violence, citing medical problems. This Thursday, when all the media were reporting on the formation of the child soldier army, Salgado introduced the new head of the Secretariat, Rolando Solano Rivera, at a public event. She did so in the company of Army Chief Luis Cresencio Sandoval and Federal Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez, who congratulated Méndez on her work and assured that as compensation she would receive a place in the public administration.
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