Criminal group the Familia Michoacana stated in a brief letter that they will cease all criminal activity for the next month.
The alleged truce is intended to show "authorities, the federal government and most of all the Michoacan people that that the Familia is not responsible for all the criminal acts that authorities and the federal government have publicized in the media," says the letter, released to the Mexican press on Sunday.
This is an apparent reference to recent allegations by police that the the Familia is "completely dismembered" and is responsible for a series of petty robberies across Michoacan, the Miami Herald reported Friday. Authorities have maintained that the group is in retreat following the death of the group's spiritual leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, in a police shootout on December 10.
The proposed ceasefire could indicate that the Familia simply does not have the resources to step up operations in their area of influence, which includes Michoacan, Guerrero and parts of northeastern Mexico like Coahuila. The supposed pact may be an attempt by the Familia to regroup itself and rethink its strategy in face of the government offensive (not to mention pressure from rivals like the Zetas and a faction of the Beltran-Leyva Organization, the South Pacific Cartel).
The Familia has often made a show of publicly asking for truces, as a calculated move to boost their image in their home state of Michoacan. The group previously asked for a month-long ceasefire on November 10, hanging banners in three cities across Michoacan, while their current number two leader, Servando Gomez Martinez, alias 'La Tuta,' has also asked to "negotiate" with the government. The group also recently insisted via pamphlets and banners that it had enforced a "Christmas truce."
The Familia is among the newest of the Mexican cartels and is also one of the most image-conscious. Their direct appeals to the "people of Michoacan" is another sign how much the group relies on grassroots support in this state, where there is much poverty and even more distrust of the central government. Notably, a series of "peace" rallies held after Moreno's death demanded police withdrawal from the area, and voiced support for elements of the Familia.
For now, it may be that the Familia's survival depends partly on Michoacanos resenting the police and military forces more than they resent the vigilante drug-traffickers. Rather than indicating that the Familia is boxed in, this latest truce petition looks like a move by the Familia to box in the police, forcing them into the role of aggressive, unwanted intruders while the Familia plays the victim.
InSight Crime has translated the full text of the letter below. The original can be accessed at Proceso.
To Michoacan society:
To all of Michoacan, firstly we wish you a happy 2011, to all Michoacanos in general, the Familia Michoacana informs you that we deny any type of criminal activity that occurred this month of December 2010, now that the federal authorities wish to blame us for these types of actions, which we flatly deny and instead point directly to the Federal Police.
And with these abuses of authority they have attacked blindly and without caring if they attack women, children, young adults, because the authorities have managed false information totally at their own convenience, and blamed the Familia Michoacana, when the only truth is that the police forces were the ones who initiated and attacked us and anybody unfortunate enough to cross their path, and thus we again deny all responsibility.
We are taking advantage of this statement to inform all of Michoacan society that the Familia has decided to continue with our pledge to not continue any kind of activity for one more month, which will be all of January 2011, so that with this decision we will again demonstrate to authorities, the federal government and most of all the entire Michoacan people that the Familia Michoacana is not responsible for all these criminal acts that the authorities and federal government have publicized in the media.
The Familia Michocana.