The founder of a self-defense force that took up arms against criminal organizations in Michoacán in 2013 announced yesterday that he was rearming.
Hipólito Mora Chávez wrote in a Facebook post that he would begin carrying a rifle and a pistol because governments have failed to provide security and are only interested in being in power and deceiving the Mexican people.
“Any authority that tries to detain me or disarm me will have to murder me because they won’t take me to jail or disarm me alive,” he wrote.
“When the government provides us with security . . . I’ll gladly lay down my arms . . .” Mora said.
In a radio interview, the former self-defense force leader stressed that he wasn’t joking about his pledge to avoid arrest.
“Nobody will put me in jail, I’ll shoot them if they try to arrest me. It’s a very strong statement that places my life and those of the people who work with me at risk but that’s the way I like to speak . . . without fooling anybody,” Mora said.
“I know that it’s illegal to carry a weapon, I’m aware of that but we’re not going to cross our arms and watch . . . people being murdered,” he said, adding that he travels in an armored vehicle and has several bodyguards.
Mora, who in February 2013 took up arms against the Los Caballeros Templarios cartel and other criminal groups in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán, charged in his Facebook post that the security situation is “worse than ever” and that authorities are “once again working with the cartels.”
They allow them to “move freely in the whole country and don’t arrest them,” he wrote.
Mora asked his Facebook friends and followers to share his post so that “it reaches all of Mexico” and people realize that “there are still men willing to die for others.”
The vigilante, whose son was killed in a 2014 confrontation between warring factions of the Fuerza Rural self-defense group that left 11 people dead, said he has a “very big moral commitment” with all the “good people” who died defending their families, adding that it would be “an honor to die for them.”
In an interview with the news website Sin Embargo, Mora further defended his decision to rearm himself.
“If one sees that the government isn’t doing its job, if one sees that in a large part of the country there are murders, extortion and kidnappings, and the criminals can move freely, well I ask myself: why can’t people who work honestly – as is my case because I have a small lime orchard – carry a gun to defend ourselves?” he said.
“What I’m saying to the authorities is give us the security we deserve. That’s what I’m asking for, I’m not challenging the government, if they take it as a challenge, that’s a matter for them. I know that there might be consequences and I accept them, I’m responsible for my statements and for whatever comes against me. The only thing I want is to deal with this problem,” Mora added.
He also said that state and federal politicians are constantly campaigning rather than working for the well-being of citizens.
“. . . But that’s not what Mexicans want, what we want is for them to provide us with security. The people in the government deny [that there is] insecurity, they’re always saying that everything is getting better but it’s not,” Mora said.
In response to Mora’s declarations, President López Obrador asserted that nobody is above the law.
“I believe that it’s in the interest of everyone to be in a country where there is a real and authentic rule of law. We [the government] are responsible for guaranteeing public security . . .” he said.
“. . . With regard to the opinions of people on this issue, I’m respectful of what they say. Just remember that we all must act with rectitude and adhere to the law.”
Inaugurating the National Guard at a ceremony in Mexico City on June 30, López Obrador acknowledged that his government has not yet made progress in combating the high levels of insecurity but he has expressed confidence that the new security force will be successful.
An average of 94 homicides per day made the first half of the year the most violent on record, and security specialists are not optimistic that things will improve in the final six months of 2019 even with the deployment of the National Guard.