Please allow me to submit the following letter in response to Tracy Wilkinson’s May 12 article, “Mexico vigilantes register weapons, are to disband.”
Tracy Wilkinson’s article analyzes an unprecedented decision by President Enrique Peña Nieto to register the weapons of Mexican vigilantes in Michoacán state. While the article discusses public responses and the possible outcomes of Nieto’s decision, it could have more fully addressed the dangers the decision presents. As the article notes, few residents in Michoacán are entirely convinced that the Knights Templar Cartel will not “return and unleash a brutal wave of revenge killings.” This security vacuum that could result from the President’s intervention should not be taken lightly. The vigilantes, who have successfully weakened drug cartels in the region, are beginning to disband, and Peña Nieto’s registering the weapons of the vigilantes may very well limit their ability to defend themselves and the Michoacán state from the threat posed by the drug cartels. Now, the very people who reduced the threat of the Knights are in danger of having their tactical strength removed by this power play by the Mexican government. While this demonstrates the government’s authority against the perceived threat of growing vigilante power, it also removes an effective defense force against the drug cartels’ advances. Limiting the vigilantes’ strength may even result in a resurgence of the cartels in the region. Wilkinson’s article touches on the lack of options President Nieto had in making his decision, but it should have also more thoroughly covered the possible gravity of the decisions being made by residents of Michoacán in opting to participate in Peña Nieto’s program.
Sabrina Escalera-Flexhaug, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
In response to the Los AngelesTimes article: “Mexico vigilantes register weapons, are to disband. ”
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