HomeNewsBriefPublic Support for Arrested Rebel Vigilante Leader Building in Mexico
BRIEF

Public Support for Arrested Rebel Vigilante Leader Building in Mexico

MEXICO / 7 JUL 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The prosecution of rebel vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles in Mexico has sparked a public backlash, and with a new poll suggesting 70 percent of Mexicans support the vigilante movement, the government may soon find itself losing the public relations war and facing a new threat.

On June 5, a court handed Mireles a formal detention order, initiating the legal process against him, reported Excelsior. Mireles, who was arrested on June 27 shortly after leading a vigilante militia takeover of a town in the southwestern state of Michoacan, will now be charged of possessing illegal weapons and drugs.

However, a campaign to free Mireles is building. In Michoacan, self-defense militias and their supporters have staged roadblocks and solidarity marches, while prominent figures and organizations ranging from Mexican politicians to the hacker collective Anonymous have publicly backed him. Mireles' lawyer has even launched a campaign encouraging people to shave their head in solidarity after images emerged of a newly shaven Mireles in prison.

A new survey released by polling firm Parametria suggests the campaign is likely to resonate among Mexicans. According to the poll 70 percent of Mexican's have a "good" or "very good" perception of the self-defense movement, reported Vanguardia. Of those that knew of Mireles, 67 percent had a positive perception of him, although the poll was taken before Mireles' arrest.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of Mireles has become a focal point for the rift created by the Mexican government's decision to legalize factions of the self-defense movement, which arose in 2013 to combat the Knights Templar criminal organization in Michoacan.

As evidenced by the Parametria poll, the vigilantes' success in driving out the Knights Templar has earned the movement considerable public backing, and stands in stark contrast to the state's failure to break the Knight's stranglehold on Michoacan.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's Security Dilemma: Michoacan's Militias 

While some vigilante leaders have now institutionalized, joining the new "Rural Defense Forces," others such as Mireles have remained on the outside, operating in a legal limbo. If the rebel groups continue to take the initiative while the legalized forces remain comparatively inactive, then this public support may well be transferred to the illegal militias.

If the state gives Mireles and other illegal militias room to operate then it undermines the whole legalization process. However, if the authorities continue to persecute figures such as Mireles, they risk turning them into martyrs while highlighting their own failings. Perhaps even more of a concern, they also risk pushing the militias further down the road to illegality and criminality by labeling them as outlaw groups.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 28 MAY 2012

Mexico's investigation into a former governor accused of taking drug money has raised suspicions of political meddling, coming soon before…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 31 AUG 2019

US firearms have flowed into the hands of corrupt security forces and criminal organizations in Mexico for years, yet the United…

MEXICO / 3 FEB 2017

Human rights campaigners have filed a criminal complaint against a Dutch bank accused of laundering money for drug cartels in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.