Vigilantes demand release of imprisoned team members in Mexico
MEXICO CITY — A top leader of a vigilante “self-defense” group in the western state of Michoacan on Friday gave the Mexican government an ultimatum: Free captured members of the movement by May 10 or expect chaos to break loose.
Jose Manuel Mireles said if members are not freed by the deadline, his organization will block towns and roads throughout the state just west of Mexico City. He also reiterated his refusal to obey government orders to lay down weapons.
There may be as many as 100 members in detention, as the government has sought to slowly dismantle the disparate organizations, Mireles said. Protests have included burning public vehicles and tearing down property.
May 10 was initially presented by President Enrique Pena Nieto's government as the date by which the “self-defense” groups of armed civilians should hand in their guns. Mireles indicated Friday he had turned the tables on the government, in a meeting Thursday, saying there would be no disarmament without the release of prisoners.
And even then, he said, it was essential that the government recognize the vigilantes, who popped up in Michoacan supposedly to counter the Knights Templar, a powerful drug and extortion gang, that had all but taken control of the state.
“It is not possible for us to go around unarmed and tranquil, because of the great risk of being hunted down,” Mireles said in a radio interview.
“We have asked the government to legalize the self-defense groups, under that name and independent of any other” local police forces, he added.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- U.S. allies in Syria struck by Russians
- Criminal investigation at United Nations snares one of its former presidents
- Abbas appeals for end to chaos with Israel
- Eastern European gangs smuggle nuclear materials, seek terrorist clients
- EU offers to ease Turkey’s refugee burden
- Mexico’s army chief denies troops involved in massacre
- Canadian, Japanese physicists win Nobel for neutrino work
- Palestinians barred from Old City amid Jewish festival
- 3 share Nobel medicine prize for new tools to kill parasites
- Dead families huddled, died in Guatemala mudslide
- Israel ready to resume peace talks with Palestinians, Netanyahu says