Translator’s Note: On January 6, residents of several indigenous towns in the war-torn state of Guerrero took up arms to defend themselves against organized crime. What follows is the official communique from the Regional Coordinating Body of Community Police (CRAC) regarding the uprising and the government’s and its collaborators’ plans to take advantage of it in order to further militarize CRAC-affiliated communities and disrupt their autonomous process.
Source My Word is My Weapon
Regarding the events that have been occurring since last week in the region of Ayutla de los Libres and Tecoanapa, we want to state the following: As everyone knows, residents of various communities in those municipalities appeared armed and masked, establishing search operations on the roads into Ayutla de los Libres, presenting themselves since day one as community police. For that reason, we stated to the press on that same day, January 7, 2013, that that movement is not led by the CRAC – COMMUNITY POLICE and we stated that we had information that those who were behind the movement were leaders of the UPOEG (Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero), despite the fact that during the first few days, they said that it was CRAC who was leading the uprising; nonetheless, during the week this issue was made even more clear, to the point where it was the leaders of that organization who have met on over three occasions with the State Governor in order to define the direction they should give to said movement. That makes it necessary for us to highlight the deceiving position and bad faith that the UPOEG leaders have maintained with the media since the beginning of the uprising, considering that they had the full knowledge that they themselves were the instigators of that uprising, [yet] they have insisted in involving us in a movement that is not typical of our way of doing things.
Likewise, we [wish to] highlight the behavior of the Governor and his officials. He insisted on trying to making us part of this uprising, always referring to the people who are involved in it as Community Police, when we have publicly disavowed any participation in those actions. We demand that the State Government respect our community institution, and that when it refers to the Community Police it makes sure that it is referring to our system.
We are concerned that he is taking advantage of the populace’s legitimate feelings about the growing insecurity and violence, manipulating it and involving it in actions that require better planning, but in any case are aimed at strengthening the protagonist ambitions of some UPOEG leaders. We express our respect to the compañeros from the grassroots communities who, without having better information, have involved themselves in said uprising with the goal of providing security for their own people, but we call for common sense and respect for the people.
We want to specify some practices that have been observed in the uprising and that clearly demonstrate that it is not the CRAC Community Police that leads it:
- At no point in time since 1995 when our community security [organization] was formed have our officers covered their faces with hoods or balaclavas. Our identification has always been the uniform of a green shirt and black pants, we have credentials issued by the community authorities, and because we are named by our assemblies, all of our people know us, which is why we don’t have any need to cover our faces. Our community police will always show their faces. We respectfully request that participants in this uprising stop using our uniform and/or shields during their operations.
- We are not at war nor in confrontation with drug trafficking. Our mission is to protect our communities. We cannot carry out operations in localities that are not incorporated into our community system. That is why we have never at any point proposed pursuing crime wherever it might be. We only carry out the detention of people when there is a prior complaint from an offended person, or if someone is found committing offense or error.
- In the 17 years that the Community Police has existed, no detainee or accused person has ever been executed or disappeared by the community system. People who are detained can be visited by their families, who are always informed of their proceedings.
- Our System of Security and Justice has never, at any moment since its birth, established in any area a “curfew,” nor has it ordered or even suggested the suspension of classes in the education system. In the community territory, people can freely transit at whatever hour without fear, because it is the our police’s work to guarantee their security and not the other way around.
- Our community institution has always proposed a respectful relationship with the government at its different levels, but we have never accepted nor will we accept that it tells us what to do or make conditions. We will not be subordinated. Our only leadership is the people. We do not request coordination with other police agencies, the Army, or the Navy.
With all that has been stated above, it is plainly obvious that which our community institution denounced during the last assembly that occurred in the La Concordia community last December 22: the ambitions of the UPOEG leadership to make themselves the main leaders in the CRAC in order to direct our community institution’s work towards the State Government’s interests. Today this is completely clear despite its leadership’s attempts to hide its true interests. We clearly see that the goal is to destabilize the whole region in which the CRAC-Community Police operates, to give the government pretexts to install state and federal police barracks and Army or Navy barracks (which is exactly what occurred in Olinalá), with the goal of militarizing our regions, legalizing paramilitary practices, and with all of that block the true people’s organizations’ organizational growth and work. We see the the instances of the state are moving forward with its strategy of putting its seal of approval on the large projects of plundering and looting our resources, such as the mining concessions and biosphere reserves, generating instability in the populace, finding accomplices, and militarizing the regions that could organize themselves to protest.
We publicly denounce that the UPOEG is interfering in the CRAC’s internal affairs. Its leader, Bruno Placido Valerio, has told various media outlets about a supposed meeting with the CRAC last December 30, during which a second meeting was supposedly agreed to that would take place on January 19 in the Petrerillo Rincón community in the Malinaltepec municipality, in which “the CRAC’s vision would be rectified.” We report that no CRAC representative convoked, nor was invited to that meeting on December 30, and for that reason no agreement that could have been reached in that meeting is valid under our community system. Therefore, the supposed meeting called for on January 19 in Potrerillo del Rincón is not being convened by the CRAC.
We denounce the presence of the UPOEG’s promotors in communities who are incorporated into the community system who are inciting the populace to join the uprising, and we call on the municipal commissioners and the community police to not let themselves get caught off guard, because if there were some sort of instruction or order to implement a security operation, they would be notified through our structures, which is the Executive Committee of the Community Police or the Regional Coordinators. To the communities who are interested in joining the CRAC, we invite you to go to one of our houses of justice in order to learn about our incorporation procedures, as well as the principles of our community system.
To all of our towns and communities, to the brotherly organizations, to the collectives, collaborators, academics, intellectuals, and progressives, we call upon you to be attentive regarding this new assault that is being organized against our community institution by the dark nucleus of power, and that, unfortunately, can now count on the participation of people who were at some point an important part of our project. Nonetheless, we are confident in our people’s wisdom to push forward in the face of this new challenge that we now face.
Respectfully, only the people support and defend the people! “Respect for our rights will be justice.”
Claudio Carrasco Hernández, José Mendoza Vázquez, Moisés Figueroa Estrada, Arturo Rojas Román, Asunción Ponce Ramos, Emilio Gálvez Flores, Felícitas Martínez Solano, Jelasio Barrera Quintero, Máximo Tranquilino Santiago, Pablo Guzmán Hernández, Carlos Morales Chávez, Rey Pastrana Peralta, Epifanio Venancio Hilario, Margarito Ramírez Micaela, Bernardino García Francisco, and Ernesto Morales Castro