Vigilantes on the border?Posted: Updated:
The rampant killings, kidnappings, and extortion in the Mexican border city Juarez has given rise to the risk of vigilates. A group calling itself the Citizens Commando of Juarez issued a "manifesto" declaring "war on thieves, kidnappers and extortionists and promises to kill a criimnal every 24 hours if government authorities do not restore order.
The information was sent via email to some in the media. (that's how I got the communiqué) I'm hesitant to talk about the contents because at this point the only contact I've had is online. I do not know if this is a real group or a lone, angry citizen venting via email. Perhaps he/she is one of the hundreds of displaced Juarez business people forced to flee to the Texas side of the border. Or could this truly be a band of Juarez residents who are willing to take the law into their own hands to restore order?
Confirming that the Citizens Commando for Juarez (CCJ for short) exists is not possible at this point. But there's no doubt risk of vigilantism in the face of lawlessness is real. There's a history of this type of activity in Latin America. Central American death squads were a fact of life in the 80s. And then there are "Los Pepes," short for people persecuted by Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug kingpin.
During a brief period in the early 1990's when these "vigilantes" operated there was speculation that rather than citizens, these were rival drug traffickers or as reported in the media back then, Los Pepes had ties to the national police.
At least on paper the Juarez organization seems to be taking a page from the
media-savvy Zapatista rebel group in Chiapas led by the ski-masked Comandante Marcos.
This organization too says it's fighting for the people and calling on citizens of Juarez to join the battle. The communiqué claims the CCJ includes university students, professionals, business people, working people, even the unemployed -- all ready to give their lives for the city.
The Chihuahua State Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez in media reports denied the group exists and said it was merely one more tactic by criminal organizations to instill fear in people.
The CCJ's leaders quickly responded with the 10 step manifesto from "Comandante Abraham and Sub-Comandante Gabriel "Durito" who vow with the help of the people to restore peace in Juarez -- even if it means taking back the city by force.
I'm heading out to do some interviews for this story. Stay tuned.