Citizens of a community in Baja California Sur have banded together much like the self-defense groups of Michoacán, but without taking up arms.
What the two do have in common is a desire to contain drug gang violence where authorities have failed to do so themselves.
Mexicans and expats in the La Paz community of El Comitán have implemented a grassroots security operation that has reduced the incidence of robberies to zero in just two weeks.
El Comitán was previously seeing up to 14 residential robberies a month. The foreign community alone reported 10 such incidents last year, reported the newspaper BCS Noticias.
But a robbery on February 20, in which shots were fired, was the last recorded.
The Comitán Seguro (Safe Comitán) program was implemented on February 21 with the active participation of all the residents of El Comitán, Deputy Camilo Torres Mejía told the state Congress in a report on the initiative.
“The neighbors set up surveillance stations in strategic locations of the community . . . making it easy to patrol and maintain vigilance over the most conflictive areas,” Torres said.
The people of El Comitán coordinate with the police department of the neighboring community of El Centenario, whose officers can offer a response time of less than five minutes.
“This neighborhood vigilance has inhibited malicious individuals from entering the neighborhood because they know they are being constantly watched,” Torres said.
Citizens of the region have asked the local authorities to extend the program to El Centenario and aid in its implementation.
“We know that the problem there is different, as there are many access points . . . but we need the collaboration of the authorities if the neighbors are to participate in a productive and constructive manner,” said a representative of Comitán Seguro.
Source: BCS Noticias (sp)