In the Mexican town of Ayutla, located 85 miles east of the beach resort of Acapulco, masked men are in charge. Armed with their own rifles, these men say they’re fed up with Mexican drug cartels that terrorize the region. This man says he’s the commander of what the locals call “community police.” Like many others who have taken up arms, he wears a mask to protect his identity for fear of retaliation by criminals.
“They’re going to see that here it’s the people who really are in charge. This goes beyond the police. It’s about the people, because entire towns have mobilized. That’s how this movement started. It had to happen because people are already fed up,”
says the Ayutla Community Police. “They say local police officers are either complicit with organized crime or overpowered by it. This situation may explain this week’s brazen attack against six Spanish tourists near Acapulco who were raped by a group of armed men. Security experts say an ineffective police force promotes impunity,” says Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor. “This conflict, this violence is very gruesome and it’s also mostly felt at the local level, oftentimes in off-the-beaten-path places, and municipalities and small towns,” says, Eric Olson, Woodrow Wilson Center.
The governor of Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, recently met with the citizens who have taken up arms. When the governor asked if the residents have confidence in the local police, the answer was a resounding “No.” Aguirre says part of the solution is purging corrupt police departments.
“Those who are complicit with criminals should be terminated immediately. If the state police is not doing their job and is also complicit, the same thing should happen. I’m not going to defend any thugs,”
says Angel Aguirre Rivero, Guerrero state governor. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto plans to create a new, 40-thousand strong, police force to help fight organized crime at the state level. “What the Mexican state can’t afford is to be intimidated by the criminals,” he told C-N-N last November, just before taking office. But the violent attack in Acapulco may indeed intimidate international tourists and affect Mexico’s tourism industry, which is among the top three sources of revenue for the country.