Guerrero Flaying: Reuters reports from RINCON DE CHAUTLA, Mexico. David Sanchez Luna let his seven- and ten-year-old daughters receive military-style firearms training after his 56-year-old mother-in-law was tortured and died after venturing out of her small Mexican hamlet ringed by drug cartels.
Residents say they have been left with little choice because they cannot take their children to school and are too terrified to leave their enclave of 16 mountain villages in the violence-plagued southwestern state of Guerrero.
“They do this to prepare themselves to defend the family, their siblings, and the town,” Sanchez Luna, a maize farmer in a rough region that organised a self-defense “community police” militia to protect itself five years ago, explained.
Guerrero Flaying: David Sanchez Luna let his seven
Last month, after local media released photographs of youngsters as young as 6-years-old toting firearms and demonstrating military movements, the villagers’ decision to offer weaponry training to school-age children startled the country and made global headlines.
While elders in the mostly indigenous village in Chilapa privately admit that small children would not be used to fight cartel shooters, they claim their desperate attempt to enlist the support of far-off politicians in Mexico City is justified.
After straying out of the territory patrolled by their self-defense militia, CRAC-PF, ten musicians from the area were ambushed and slain by suspected Los Ardillos cartel members last month. Officials said their remains had been burned.
The incident came after a slew of murders, including a beheading that alarmed the 6,500 locals who live in a verdant valley surrounded by vast poppy-growing fields that support Guerrero Flaying heroin trade and supply lines to the United States.
The gruesome killings and siege-like conditions that inhabitants face are at the heart of cartel power and governmental failure in modern Mexico, where out-of-control violence pulls at the fabric of society.
“This is a public cry for help from a trapped community,” said Falko Ernst, an expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG). “They’ve tried unsuccessfully to gain support from the federal and state governments, so they’re trying to raise the rhetoric to negotiate and get help.”
Those who arm children “should be ashamed of themselves,” said President Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador, who also condemned the use of youngsters to get attention.
With a record 34,582 killings last year, Lopez Obrador
Residents continue to hold regional authorities and the smattering of local police officers in their villages in high regard, accusing them of being the Los Ardillos’ eyes and ears.
Parents claim that their children are compelled to discontinue formal schooling once they reach the age of 12 since middle schools are located in cartel-controlled area.
Abuner Martinez, 16, stopped going to school a year ago when his father was kidnapped, tortured, and decapitated outside of CRAC-PF area.
“At that point, I was terrified.” “I didn’t want to go to school,” said Martinez, who now guards a checkpoint with a shotgun.
According to Sanchez Luna’s brother, Bernardino, who created the CRAC-PF, the Los Ardillos seek to blackmail farmers and force them to grow opium for the cartel.
“We are under siege,” he explained.
Residents live in terror of the siren, a community alarm system, going off again after CRAC-PF thwarted a major attack by Los Ardillos in January 2019.
Farmers tend to their corn fields with shotguns slung over their shoulders, while armed CRAC-PF militias keep watch and patrol their zone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sanchez, David Alberta, Luna’s wife, sobbed as she described receiving her mother’s body covered with torture marks.