Oaxaca city vigilante Laura Theft and muggings are common in her Oaxaca city neighborhood of La Noria, says Laura, who heads her community's citizens' committee.

Armed with machete, Oaxaca woman takes on neighborhood crime

Vigilante says police do little about the nearly daily crime in La Noria

If you see a steely-eyed, machete-wielding woman in the streets of Oaxaca city, don’t be afraid: she’s there to protect you, not hurt you.

A 54-year-old La Noria resident who heads up the community’s citizens’ committee has taken to the streets to clamp down on the crime that she says municipal police are failing to stop.

“I’m the president of the residents’ committee in the neighborhood of La Noria, and we [patrol] the streets because there is a lot of crime and there is no police vigilance. That’s why we’re working,” the woman, who only identified herself as Laura, told the newspaper Milenio.

Machete in hand, she walks through the streets of La Noria, located just outside Oaxaca city’s historic center, every day from early in the morning. Car batteries and water meters are frequently targeted by thieves, and muggings are common, Laura said.

“That is what is bothering us a lot; it makes us very angry,” she said. “… The municipal police don’t patrol despite the complaints we made to Mayor Oswaldo García Jarquín,” she said.

“… There are robberies almost every day,” she added. “… On Saturday, some people on motorcycles grabbed a young woman and took her bag, cell phone and everything she was carrying. They shoved her as well.”

Asked why she decided to arm herself with a machete, Laura responded that it was a matter of coincidence. One day, she went to collect the blade from a person she had lent it to, and from that day on she began carrying the machete with her while patrolling the streets.

She said that carrying some kind of weapon is necessary because criminals are always armed with ice picks, knives or guns.

Due to her courage and concern for the well-being of her fellow residents, citizens have dubbed Laura “La Guerrera” (The Warrior), saying they admire and respect her for the work she does.

With reports from Milenio

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