The Story of the Community Police in Olinala, Guerrero Print

After the PRI (Mexico's dominant political party) entered our town, everything went bad. Armed men began to enter. Robberies and kidnappings started occuring. Murder too. Then organized crime started extorting of taxi drivers started and a taxi driver was murdered for not paying the extortion. In October 2012, the people uprose and protested in the street. The people took weapons from the criminals, arrested them, and turned the criminals over to the police. Then we saw that the Municipal Police gave their own police uniforms to the criminals the people had detained so that they could escape dressed as police.

So we formed an Indigenous Community Police Force, made up of and run by people from the community. Our goals were to value life and respect people. With the community police, someone who commits a crime is held responsible by doing community work, such as community service. With the community police, we were able to reduce crime dramatically. Indigneous community police forces are legally recognized in Guerrero and Mexico and are often effective at reducing crime. However, the Municipal government and police were corrupt or in collusion with organized crime. So we thought thought it would be better to have the Army and the Marines come address organized crime instead of the government police. We thought the Army and the Marines could protect us, could give us security, so we requested they come. But we were wrong.

The military dedicated itself to harrassing the Community police and the population. They would physically beat someone who they arrested for drinking alcohol. They wouldn't resolve issues of violent crime but would put up checkpoints in areas where pretty young women were. The military tried to humiliate us as members of the community police. They constantly harrassed us and when there was a crime they wouldn't do anything. So we saw that the military was not going to give our community security and that we had to better organize ourselves as community police to protect our families and community.

The problems started when the Community Police began to detain people connected to the government who had committed crimes. The government offered us money not to. But our work was to protect our community.

Then there was a double murder and the Community Police found that a local government official had tampered with evidence by erasing blood from the double murders. He also attempted to steal a cow belonging to those who had been murdered. The Community Police detained him. He was a political friend of the Mayor. Shortly afterward, military tanks entered the town to take Nestora, the head of the Community Police. The military also damaged our House of Justice, a communal house where the Community Police detain criminals, and burned our documents related to cases. The government freed the criminals in the House of Justice and used them to accuse Nestora and other members of the Community Police of kidnapping them.

Nestora was taken by the military in August 2013. For a long time we didn't know where she was. Eventually we found out she had been taken to federal prison in Nayarit.

The military continues its presence in our town, which is primarily to intimidate us. They don't spend time in the areas where the criminals are, but instead harrass us.

Gonzalo Molina was taken by the authorities during a protesting calling for Nestora's freedom. He is being held prisoner in Tixtla.

Samuel Ramirez was taken prisoner by the government when he was just 17 years old and has now spent 2 years in prison. And there are others.

Eleuterio García Carmen, Leobardo Maximino, Arturo Campos Herrera, Abad Grancisco Ambrosio, Cano Morales Antonia, Bernardino García Francisco, Ángel García García, Benito Morales Justo, Florentino Garcia Castro, Rafael García Guadalupe,
Florentino García Castro, and Samuel Ramírez Gálvez are also imprisoned for being part of the Community Police force.

******
When the SOAW delegation visited Nestora in jail, she shared with us a message:

"I would like to send a message to all my Latin American and North American borthers and sisters, and to people from all countires, to thank you very much for all the support you have given me in these very difficult moments for me.  Also, I want to ask you not to stop your struggle, it is now or never, because thanks to all of you we have advanced, and are achieving something, and at least I was transferred.  I want to regain my freedom and I want to tell you all personally that I have not committed any crime, I never kidnapped anyone, and I want to tell you that I am innocent and that this is part of what the government is doing against me.... Thanks to all of you and the support you have given me, they have heard me.  I also want to say to those of you who are mothers and fathers that this struggle is worth it for our children, that stuggling for a better world for our children is worth it.

You all are my strength and all I have left... Thank you for all of your support... I send you an embrace from here and also ask that we all work for all political prisoners everywhere, so that we all leave this hell.  Thank you compañeros, brothers and sisters in the struggle."