Guerrero, considered to be one of the most violent states in Mexico, seems to be in a never ending state of chaos. Murders in the beach resort town of Acapulco, the capital city Chilpancingo, multiple clandestine grave sites and of course, the Iguala massacre. Estado Fallido, failed state, is constantly used to describe Mexico, but especially Guerrero. No doubts there, police involvement in many heinous crimes, politicians and political parties working hand in hand with organized crime. A failed state, but what is a functioning state?
Some “opposition” parties talk about being a more regulated state, like the United States. Seems like a good idea, if you ignore the murderous, racist police and of course the politicians that work alongside massive corporations that, well you should know, aren’t in the interest of the people. Mexico has corrupt police, and so does the United States. Mexican politicians work with profit hungry groups, so does the United States. A functioning state doesn’t exactly equal justice and prosperity for all. It goes against the interests of the state. However, one can plainly see how bad the state of Guerrero is. Some days, they will find multiple people that were killed in one site, and it isn’t headline news. Then it turns out, police had some hand in the matter. Which can also be the US, but surely you should know that by now. Taking everything into account, you will ask, “Well, if the US isn’t a model to follow, and Guerrero is in shambles, then what is the solution? What is the model to follow?” It’s in Guerrero, believe it or not.
When you have organized crime running rampant, killing, kidnapping, and terrorizing people, and you know the police are involved with those groups, you’re rather lost. What institution do you turn to? The politicians are involved with them as well, so no use taking your grievances to them. Then it becomes a matter of not what institution to seek help from, but who. Communities in Guerrero have been looking towards their next door neighbor. They all face the same problems, and want a solution to them. Strength in numbers, they band together, as do the rest of their neighbors. Nothing new, there’s a history there, and other communities in Mexico when it comes to securing their communities without the state. You may not be familiar with how those methods of community organizing work, but I’ll fill you in. FYI, that includes armed conflict.
So, no police forces, because they’re working with the very same organized crime that terrorizes your community. For example, comunitarios from Ocotito detained 18 members of a cartel carrying a cache of assorted weapons, among the detained, a state police officer. Keeping that in mind, the question then is, how do you secure yourself and your neighbors? Communities select who joins the bands of armed patrols to keep out cops and cartels. They also have another great choice, they can vote to get them out of the patrols if they feel they haven’t done their work right, or have become abusive. In case you missed the point there, the community chooses, not the authorities. They get the final say, and that is far greater than any promises made from the authorities. It doesn’t just go for security; the model of community based action goes beyond that. They have realized that not only does the state fail at securing communities, it fails to properly provide infrastructure. Community meetings over roads that need repair, end with people deciding to get together and fix it themselves. This model of comunitarios has been growing, most recently, the comunitarios of Petaquillas. Which very recently took on military riot police trying to disarm them.
Comunitarios in Petaquillas, just minutes away from the state capital, called for a public meeting. They asked residents from different neighborhoods to select their most moral, trustworthy elders to represent their respective areas of town. Ten were chosen, five men, five women, to represent their neighborhood in the community council. The town of Petaquillas is the newest to organize in such a way in Guerrero. They’re not alone; of course, there are now around 30 different communities in Guerrero that are organized in such a way. Doing away with elected officials belonging to political parties, they replace them with popular people’s councils. With politicians gone, political parties hated, something else happened as a result, well it was brewing for some time anyways. What about the elections?
With the disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa, there were calls to boycott the elections, “no elections until the 43 are returned” being a popular slogan. To use the community of Petaquillas as an example, just a day after they formed their own council and security forces, they threw their support behind the parents of the disappeared students. The parents visited the comunitarios, and the comunitarios volunteered to help them in their fight. The parents of the disappeared students spearheaded the call to boycott the elections. That is however, not entirely unique in Mexico lately. The idea of no political parties isn’t unique to the communities in Guerrero, the town of Cherán in the state of Michoacán is another example of this attitude.
After all, they know political parties are in business with organized crime, so why bother? They didn’t, they did the opposite, they decided to bring power to the community level, instead of letting power rule over them. So yes, a failed state, including a beautiful, set on fire government palace. Even journalists seemed to enjoy that. After all, why try and save something that does nothing? Let it burn, something will rise from the ashes. Well, it already has. Around thirty autonomous communities, and growing.