In this documentary created by VICE, we take a trip down to a small town in Mexico where a revolution is taking place. Fed up with ceaseless crime waves of murders, extortion, and kidnappings a series of societal movements has arisen in the state of Guerrero (Warrior), Mexico. Hundreds of civilians have taken up arms to confront organized crime gangs. Their arms are hunting weapons such as machetes, rifles, and shotguns owned by farmers.
The absence of authorities and the government’s indolence toward the persistence of violence and impunity drove the community to see no other option than to overcome their fears and organize to take control in a state of emergency.
The people in the community of Ayutla, Guerrero have taken matters into their own hands. They formed a volunteer group of self-defense that engage in vigilante justice, or as they call themselves, “community police”.
Contrary to what the current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto has proclaimed, these self-defense groups feel they are backed by the Mexican Constitution, International Labor Organization, and the Law of the State of Guerrero to take control when they feel it necessary because of the lack of protection by existing authorities. The mayor of Ayutla, Guerrero admits that all levels of government have failed in keeping peace and making the community feel safe, he acknowledges the self-defense groups as the people organizing to defend their own people and commends them.
However, the official established Community Police do not recognize this self-defense movement as “community police”. The official Community Police are detaining criminals, investigating crimes, holding trials, and carrying out sentencing in the form of a reeducation process. The Community Police fear that due to lack of official training, there is a risk that these self-defense groups could become a paramilitary group at the service of government, political parties, drug traffickers, guerrillas, religious groups, or the wealthy.
Regardless of all of the controversy surrounding these movements, the fact remains that since they organized and began their work there has not been a single kidnapping, murder, or rape in the community. In addition they claim there have been no extortions and no one is taking money in exchange for protection.
Do you believe that vigilante justice is a valid response to a government that fails to protect its citizens?