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Mexican Militias Fighting Back Against Drug Cartels

Mexican Militias Fighting Back Against Drug Cartels
Mexican militia members organize themselves at Division del Norte, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Juarez Lugo / For The Washington Post)

Anti-gunners have a very inconvenient lesson staring them in the face in Mexico. As we have reported previously, citizens there are banding together to take up arms and fight the drug cartels that have savagely oppressed them for years, often with the connivance of corrupt police and government officials.

The Washington Post has quite surprisingly discovered the story, which hardly comports with its editorial page's worldview.

The Post reports the militias started with rusty old hunting guns hidden when Mexico essentially banned gun ownership in 1972, but have by now captured lots of AR-15s and AK-47s from the cartels and are confronting them on a more even plane as far as armament is concerned.

More importantly, the violent oppression of the cartels has instilled in them the courage of desperation. A 47-year-old bureaucrat, who is sure she will be killed if the gang retakes her town, said of her decision to join the cause: "I may live one year or 15, but I will live free."

That puts me in mind of a maxim from my boyhood, now way too politically incorrect for our schools: "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

The province of Michoacan, located on the west coast of the country between Guadalajara and Mexico City, has become the focal point of the struggle.

At first, the militias arrested members of the Knights Templar cartel and turned them over to authorities. But after seeing the criminals immediately returned to the streets, they sensibly adopted a no-prisoners policy that will be familiar to any student of the Pancho Villa days of the Mexican Revolution.

The success of the militias is problematic for the Mexican establishment. As the Post put it:

"The army deployed to the area in May, but the soldiers are mostly manning checkpoints. Instead, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is facing the awkward fact that a group of scrappy locals appears to be chasing the gangsters away, something federal security forces have not managed in a decade."

Peña Nieto has done some useful things, facing down first the corrupt oil monopoly and now the even more corrupt teacher unions. But, with the country fatigued by years of bloodshed, he abdicated the responsibility to confront the drug cartels, which have thoroughly infiltrated and corrupted the Mexican political and legal systems. His hand may be forced, however, with the recent assassination of a vice admiral and the police chief of the port city Lazaro Cardenas by the cartels.

It is clear armed citizens have been left to do what the state will not or cannot. You cannot fail to admire the courage of these ordinary Mexicans. Let's hope they can press forward to final victory over the drug lords and follow it by a cleansing of their crooked government.


The first order of business on the day they take over should be to reestablish the right to bear arms. They've certainly demonstrated the need for it.

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