viernes, 16 de agosto de 2013

Troops disarm militia in western Mexico amid protests

Soldiers detained and disarmed on 14 August 45 members of the self-styled, self-defence group (Autodefensa) of Aquila in the western state of Michoacán in a rare intervention against one of the groups Mexico's government denounces as illegal. The groups have emerged in several states, but particularly in Michoacán and Guerrero in reaction to the extensive, violent and near-unchecked activities of criminal gangs there. This was presumably the militia that briefly took over the Aquila municipal government in late July, disarming the police; the newspaper Milenio reported on 15 August that it had controlled Aquila since 23 July. When troops arrived in town to arrest four or five members of the militia including its leader Agustín Villanueva, they found that 40 other members of the militia carried weapons used exclusively by the armed forces and other arms thought to have belonged to the Aquila police. They were disarmed and detained for the illegal possession of such arms; the army later stated that some 300 locals sought to obstruct the operation and effectively held 30 soldiers hostage for six hours. Sixty local residents were said to be travelling to Mexico City to demand the release of the 40 militiamen, La Jornada reported on 16 August. Self-defence groups in the nearby districts of Buenavista Tomatlán and Tepalcatepec were said separately to have threatened to "paralise the state" with unspecified actions from 19 August if these were not released, La Jornada reported. The acting governor of Michoacán Jesús Reyna García has accused the militia of "sowing fear" in and around Aquila and obstructing circulation, although according to Milenio he had not explicitly accused the group of having ties to organised crime. He was cited as saying he was not informed of the other militias' threats.