Nineteen children who were presented in the mountains of Guerrero in January as vigilantes-in-waiting have laid down their weapons after the community police force that was training them reached an agreement with the state government.
The coordinator of the CRAC-PF force said that a deal was struck with officials from the DIF family services agency at a meeting last Thursday.
“We were asked not to continue preparing the children [as community police],” Bernardino Sánchez said.
He added that the CRAC-PF, which operates in the municipalities of Chilapa and José Joaquín de Herrera, made a commitment to stop the children’s training as long as the 29 demands it put forth are met.
Directed to both the Guerrero and federal government, the demands include a visit from President López Obrador to formally endorse the community police force, the cancellation of 66 warrants issued for the arrest of CRAC-PF members, the release of imprisoned colleagues and a guarantee for the education of children who live in Chilapa and José Joaquín.
David Sánchez, another CRAC-PF coordinator, said that the community police force has given state authorities a week to show that they are prepared to meet the demands.
A meeting with DIF Guerrero president Mercedes Calvo, wife of Governor Héctor Astudillo, is scheduled for this Thursday to review the progress made, the newspaper Milenio reported.
David Sánchez said that the CRAC-PF has shown its willingness to keep its side of the bargain and that it’s up to authorities to do the same.
He stressed that the children who were in training to become community police – some of whom are as young as six – were not being prepared to become sicarios, or criminal hitmen.
“They’re being prepared to defend their family, their mother, their little brother and the town,” Sánchez said.
“For us, as indigenous people, in accordance with our traditions and customs, teaching our children so that they know how to defend themselves is a right because if we don’t teach them, later they [crime gangs] will kill us. … Will the government defend them? We’ve already seen that it won’t,” he said.
Ten indigenous musicians were killed in Chilapa last month, allegedly at the hands of members of the Los Ardillos crime gang, which has attacked communities in the region on numerous occasions in recent years.
Eleven days after the ambush and murder of the musicians, a joint state and federal security operation was launched in Chilapa, while a walk for “Peace, Justice and Truth” was held in the municipality on Saturday to remember those who had been murdered or abducted in the Guerrero community in recent years.
Source: Milenio (sp)