For more than a decade, academics have written about the “Colombianization” of Mexico, meaning that some of the patterns emerging in Mexico’s violence have been previously seen in Colombia. One of them is the rise of paramilitary groups in Mexico, which was what Colombia lived during the 1980s and 1990s.
The self-defense groups have emerged in Mexico’s Guerrero and Michoacan, two of the country’s most violent states. Citizens say they have no choice but to take up arms themselves in the face of the state’s complete inability to provide security, according to Insight Crime.
Lawlessness was also why Colombia’s paramilitary groups first came to being.
In Mexico’s Michoacan state, a paramilitary group took control of a town and detained 15 police officers on January 4.
The head of the self-defense group in Michoacan state, José Manuel Mireles, said his group, which controls one-fifth of Michoacan state, would continue despite state and federal efforts to contain it.
Mireles was trained as a doctor. He took up the self-defense group when one of his family members was kidnapped by a drug group.
Mireles’ forces fight the group Los Caballeros Templarios, which controls the production of marihuana and synthetic drugs, and illegal iron mining. Los Caballeros Templarios also carries out kidnappings and extortions.
In Mexico’s Guerrero state, the two major self-defense groups, the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (Upoeg) and the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC) united. Previously, they were rivals. Locals, who expressed outrage at the violence, kidnappings and extortions, applauded the group as they marched together through the town.
Deja-vu in Colombia.
Next up in Mexico: These self-defense groups will begin financing themselves through drugs, and will themselves turn into lawless drug cartels.