By: Alina Rosas Duarte / @ARD3_0
(November 4, 2013) – After years of being extorted by the Caballeros Templarios, the villagers of the town of Aquila, Michoacán, decided to form a Community Guard without knowing that, for this same reason, they would end up displaced, killed, or be victims of persecution throughout the country. Revolución Trespuntocero (Revolution 3.0) decided to follow up on the nightmare that the villagers of Aquila live through.
The Beginning of the Community Guard
On June 4thof this year, the residents of the municipality of Aquila decided to form a Community Guard in response to extortions and harassment from the Caballeros Templarios, extortions that followed from the announcement made in April 2012 by the mining company Ternium which operates in that same town: 18,000 pesos per month would be issued to each of the 401 villagers of Aquila by exploiting their lands.
The harassment against the villagers didn’t come at first by organized crime, but from the mining company who accused one of the community leaders, Agustín Villanueva—now detained at the Social Rehabilitation Center David Franco Rodríguez in Michoacán—of aggravated robbery, which is why the residents of Aquila filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission directed against the Military Zone 21/A and 43/A for causing harm to the families and violating their rights.
The harassment continued, Agustín Villanueva last April said that Mexican Navy members were watching him.
In an interview with Revolución Trespuntocero, the lawyer Verónica Bedolla, representative of the community of San Miguel de Aquila, said that on May 20th they agreed to an agreement with the company “at a high environmental and cultural cost, we managed to attain the royalty payments when the Mexican legal system didn’t provide, but they haven’t fully implemented this on the basis of it cheating”.
Conflicts with Ternium worsened, and at the same time, harassment from organized crime increased.
It was on July 24 when the Community Guard in Aquila rose up in arms and arrested the Municipal Police in the local headquarters under the slogan “Por un Aquila libre” (For a free Aquila). On that day, they demanded that the mayor Juan Hernández Ramírez stop paying dues to organized crime and meet the needs of the indigenous communities in the Sierra and the coastal region of Michoacán. The community police only lasted 3 weeks; The Federal Police and the Army entered the community.
The Emergence of the Army in Aquila
Once the Army and the Federal Police entered Aquila, 45 community police members were detained, all of them were transferred to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SEIDO) for a few days and then sent to prisons throughout Michoacán and Veracruz.
On arresting members of the Community Guards, other Community Guard leaders in Michoacán declared that they would emancipate if they didn’t release those detained, to the extent of ignoring the state.
In an interview with Revolución Trespuntocero, IDPs (internally displaced person) from Aquila stated that after their comrades were disarmed, the state government entered with the mayor of Aquila and its corresponding cabinet, alongside organized crime (the Caballeros Templarios) and guarded by the 3 levels of government, “When they enter the village, the government at that time, killed two of our comrades- Salvador Ramos Eudave and Alejandro Martínez Paulino”. The reason for their deaths, they declared, was because they were wearing the shirts of the Community Guard. They were unarmed.
“Michoacán is owned by the Caballeros Templarios, Jesús Reyna’s brother-in-law is la Tuta”
“During the arrest of the Community Guards, comrades from the Guard withdrew from the town and began to be persecuted by the government and organized crime, now they are in the hills or in other states where the government nor organized crime can find them, because in Aquila, the government and organized crime participate together”, said one of the displaced inhabitants of the municipality.
“The town of Aquila is like a barracks right now”, said another habitant of Aquila, a member of one of the more than 100 families displaced from the town.
One of the displaced women stated that the citizens continue to be attacked and that cartel hitmen “ go up to the hill very often” in order to kill the Community Guard members in hiding.
After the army entered Aquila, on August 28, a resident of Aquila declared that the governor at that time visisted Aquila. On that same afternoon, Miguel Alcalá Alcalá is assassinated; “The Templarios kidnapped him, took him away, and tortured him.” They were trying to get him to tell them where the rest of the Community Guard members were.
After this assassination, two more followed; “They left them chained up, shot them around 30 times with an AK-47, took out part of their organs, stabbed them with a knife, cut off their fingers and part of the mouth, left them chained up on a mango tree, and left a note on their chest pinned with a knife saying that this will happen to all of the Community Guards.
Residents of Aquila today point out that all of the Guards are displaced, “they are hunting them down”. “They are all hiding and being persecuted”. This is why when Human Rights people arrive, the people of Aquila can’t tell them anything, they say everything is fine.
As for the prisoners, one of the interviewees said that Jesús Reyna visited Agustín Villanueva, a Community Guard leader, to grant him his freedom in exchange for signing an agreement where the community would agree to disarm and to stop opposing the mining company Ternium. Villanueva refused, they told him “he would die in jail because they wouldn’t be releasing him”.
A displaced resident of Aquila said that today “the Caballeros Templarios are located in Nuevo Coahuayana, in El Ranchito, La Loma, and also in La Placita, where a boss named Lico González Medina, is a plaza boss and leader of the Caballeros Templarios who is also in charge of several towns such as Aquila, La Placita, San Juan de Limas, El Ticuiz, and other villages belonging to the municipality of Nuevo Coahuayana.
Those who are displaced claim that they know that Lico González Medina has the Army and Navy paid off.
“The Caballeros Templarios own Michoacán, Jesús Reyna doesn’t support us at all, and his brother in law is La Tuta”. When they interview Reyna he says that nothing happens here in Michoacán, but it’s the opposite, he’s involved with organized crime”.
In an interview, residents of Aquila stated that in La Placita, Carmelo Núñez Vargas (El Siete) and his brothers Onorio and Julio operate. Vargas’s right hand man is Gerardo Landín (El Negro) who operates in Nuevo Coahuayana as a hitman, while for Federico González Medina (El Jefe), “El Güero Champú” operates as his right hand man.
In Aquila, Israel and his brother Rogelio Lazo Carrión (El Bolo), and Manuel Ontiveros Valencia operate.
Although it has been more than two months since the impact of the disarmament of the Community Guard in Aquila, 19 villagers still face trail in the Federal Social Rehabilitation Center of Perote in Veracruz, while Agustín, Efraín and Vicente Villanueva find themselves in the CERESO (social rehabilitation center) David Franco in Michoacán.
Source: Revolución 3.0
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