The Community Police of Guerrero, Confronting the Greatest Threat in its Existence
For the Regional Coordinating Body of Community Authorities of the Mountain and Costa Chica of Guerrero (CRAC-PC), the seizure of the House of Justice in San Luis Acatlán by leaders and supporters of the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero (UPOEG) is “a direct attack against the communal system” that “seriously jeopardizes the CRAC project to build people power by the people.” The CRAC, also commonly known as the Community Police[i], calls upon social organizations to be aware of the conflict, “which represents an escalation of UPOEG aggression toward the community justice system.”
Conflict with the UPOEG escalated on January 7th, when residents of Ayutla de los Libres and Tecoanapa rose up after a confrontation and kidnapping. UPOEG leaders, two of whom who were in the founding of the CRAC 17 years ago, declared that the CRAC organized the actions of armed checkpoints, arresting 54 suspects and holding a public trial.
The CRAC, which is composed of Mixteca, Tlapaneca, Amuzga and Mestizo communities, rejects the claims of being behind the uprising. Through a statement signed by its 16 regional coordinating bodies, the CRAC recognized the legitimate demand for justice by the people but listed differences in their principles compared to the actions being carried out by the UPOEG, mainly in terms of the detention and treatment of detainees.
Despite this demarcation, there is insistence in the media and in a blog created for the uprising that the CRAC were behind the events. On January 21st, the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero, announced that he was preparing a decree that would make the CRAC an “auxiliary” force of state security forces.
In a previous interview with Desinformémonos, Valentin Hernandez, counsel for the CRAC, stated that “the UPOEG has been trying for a long time to halt the process of incorporating [into the CRAC] the various communities of Ayutla de los Libres, in order to derail the work of the CRAC and push toward the interests of the state government.” He also noted that the immediate consequences have been that “the government has further militarized the zone, with more Army and Marine units in the area of the Ayutlas. Operation Safe Guerrero[ii], intended for the area around Acapulco, is now being implemented in Ayutla and Teconoapa, with the presence of Federal forces.”
On February 9th, while the CRAC was assembled in Jolochitán to appoint new regional coordinators and commanders, UPOEG leaders and a group of 50 people seized the CRAC’s House of Justice in San Luis Acatlán, declaring that they no longer recognized the assembly. The organization, headed by Placido and Bruno Cirino Valerio, wanted the meeting to be held in the community of El Rincon, where Apolonio Cruz is president of the Ejidal Commissariat. He is the “UPOEG leader in the region and is opposed to the existing regional coordinators of the CRAC,” reported the Coordinating Body of the CRAC.
On January 20th a meeting that was to be held in Cuanacaxtitlán was suspended by the CRAC because of the “open provocation” by UPOEG members. Thus, in order “to prevent a confrontation with the UPOEG and guarantee order,” the CRAC’s Regional Coordinating Body decided to hold the meeting in Jolochitán. According to a CRAC statement, in Jolochitán the necessary authorities arrived so that the assembly and its decisions would be considered valid.
Among the agreements reached in the assembly was the rejection of the State Government’s decree that seeks to regulate the CRAC, “because we consider it a violation of Articles 2 and 39 of the Constitution that have given backbone to our communal system as well as the agreement 169 of the ILO (International Labor Organization).” This provoked a call for a statewide gathering on February 17th for the defense of the community justice and security system. They also agreed to convene a regional meeting February 23rd to ratify the appointment of authorities for the four houses of justice (San Luis Acatlán, Hawthorn, Zitlaltepec and El Paraíso). Finally the decision was made to not participate in the State Government’s Commission for Harmony and Development of Indigenous Communities – scheduled for February 4 – until it was fully investigated and discussed by the assembly.
The CRAC reports that it has appointed a committee to dialogue with the dissidents of the UPOEG, with “those who plan on continuing to ignore all the resolutions of the regional assembly.” It also denounces the UPOEG’s defamation of CRAC members: Gelasius Barrera, Pablo Guzman and Valentin Hernandez.
Desinformémonos is an “autonomous, global communications project” and sister organization to the Americas Program. It covers grassroots movements throughout the world and the ideas and aspirations behind them.
Translation: Clayton Conn
[i] Although the Community Police and CRAC are commonly used interchangeably, the Community Police is an entity of the CRAC. Other organizations such as the UPOEG also have a community police that, according to the CRAC, operate under different principles.
[ii] “Operation Safe Guerrero” was launched on Oct. 6, 2011, by Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre Riverom in an effort to reduce the soaring drug-related crime rates in the state.