Thursday, February 6, 2014


By Artemio Muniz, Jr.
VON ORMY—What would you do if one of the world’s most violent cartel drug kingpin sent you a message begging to reconsider your actions, asking you to name your price and he would pay it? In the state of Michoacán, Mexico one man named Hipolito Mora, received that message via cell phone video. Usually when this same notorious kingpin was seen on video, it was either a self glorifying music video, a warning narco message to rival cartels, or a chilling propaganda piece where the kingpin would roam the streets handing out money and justifying his criminal organizations extortion racket as  good for the community.     
     This time there was no threat  for something had changed, something drastic happened in the region know as the Hot Lands of Michoacán. A simple rancher rose up and simply had enough. This rancher Hipolito Mora, with the help of avocado and lemon farmers, and other ranchers who were fed up were able to eradicate the crime syndicate that the Mexican government, federal police, and even other cartels has been unable to. Mora and the community rose up, bearing arms and broke the law of the Mexican Constitution. When asked what triggered his defiant uprising, he pointed to one of his neighbors, a lemon picker who was forced to leave his job after only working one hour, The cartel had imposed a work curfew, and then arbitrarily sent everyone home. The old man had only made enough money to pay half his breakfast. The old lemon picker keeping his gaze downward told Mora “Luckily I have no kids, because I would not be able to feed them.” Mora told him that this injustice would soon stop, the old man shook his head and reminded him that the cartel known as the Templar Knights were too strong, the cartels were too rich, too powerful. Mora felt rage grow in him and said “ A crazy man will rise up and fight them, and God and the people of our town will protect that man, and this will all finish.” Mora was referring to himself, and with the act of taking up arms, and risking his life he had accomplished the impossible. When he finished watching the drug kingpin ask him to let him operate once again in the region and he would pay any price he requested, Mora sent word back that money meant nothing to him, Freedom was more precious.
     A man can only take so much until his rage and thirst for justice turns him into a cold, focused resolute weapon, determined to destroy the abusive tyrant who before roamed about taking advantage of men in fear. In Michoacán, Mexico simple citizens have created their own new constitution to abide by, they have tasted the power of self defense against the cartels and now refuse to let go of that power. Ranchers, avocado farmers, businessmen, teachers, people like you and me have been forced to rediscover the natural right of protecting their families and neighbors, converting themselves into citizen solders bearing arms, high powered weapons and mobilizing in pickup trucks that before use to carry their harvest to the local market but now filled with their angry neighbors looking to capture and or kill drug cartel goons. Driven by the brutal rapes and killings of their daughters and sisters, these Michoacán fathers and sons avenge the deaths of their loved ones and have taken the oath that they will not rest until the cartels are gone forever from their lands. Perhaps this state of nature of violence is something that is foreign to our American political landscape but if you believe in the concept of laboratories of democracy, here we clearly see that even in a nation state void of a right to bear arms, this natural right will resurrect when good men are forced to restore civility for themselves. Government, law enforcement, media and politicians have all sold out in Mexico and the last line of defense are the citizens themselves. When the social institutions of one's society such as the local police, state police, the media and federal government all are corrupted and persecute you instead of the cartel elements, the ultimate check and balance against the socially accepted tyranny is for the citizen leader to re-impose his liberty by force. What we are witnessing in Mexico, is an internal revolution, the overthrow of a social contract that previously for decades experimented with citizens foregoing their natural rights to bear arms. The government at the federal and state level has carefully answered back by seeking to disarm the citizens and not the cartels. After the escalating tyranny by the drug cartels and corrupt law enforcement agencies that began with extortion, kidnappings and ended with rape and murders, this experiment of ignoring the natural right to bear arms has ended in Michoacán. Men like Dr. Mireles, and Simon "El Americano" have begun a chain reaction that the government might not be able to contain. As an American, I hope these men from Tierra Caliente succeed. On January 14th, 2014, federal police arrived to “restore order” and at gunpoint disarmed some of the citizens of this town. Others rushed to hide their weapons. The angry men and women of Michoacán retaliated with rocks, and the military fired upon them killing three, including an 11 year old child. "We told you to return our weapons, that our people would not stop until you returned our weapons and now look at what you have done!" is what the citizenry's spokesperson Estanislao Beltran Torres screamed in anger. The federal government of Mexico, and the state government arrive with the military to disarm the very victims of some of the most gruesome of crimes by the cartels while the cartel members continue to operate freely. Michoacán finds itself at a crossroads, will they fight and protect their new self asserted right to fight and protect or will they hand over their weapons and live again under tyranny.
Amongst the people who have risen, you will find rugged individuals, farmers and ranchers who now speak the language of freedom. You look at Hipolito Mora you see a rugged cowboy, with his 9 millimeter at his waist, ready to unload at the first sign of a motorcycle who might be a paid assassin for the cartel. Dr. Mireles, a man who worked for the Red Cross in the United States, tall and bold in his public interviews, dons a large mustache and bulletproof vest, jumping out of trucks with neighbors shouting directions into the autodefensa radio network. They take pride in not using any code language, explaining that they use normal words laced with expletives so the military will know their every move, not having any reason to go after the citizens. Amongst the men and women who have taken arms, you see a few here and there who have spent time in America, and you get the sense from hearing them speak to the media that they had tasted freedom and now that they are back in their homeland, no cartel could erase that desire be free.
Currently the odds are becoming increasingly more stacked against these courageous citizens. Televisa, the most powerful news network in Mexico has not only suppressed the story but even put out false information by editing an interview by the citizen’s leader Dr. Mireles, and making it appear like he is asking the citizenry to give up their weapons to the government. Dr. Mireles has taken to u-tube, social media and independent news reporters to carry the truth where he implores his fellow neighbors to keep their weapons at all costs. In International news, even here in America, these citizens have been labeled vigilantes, as if in their society an actual law enforcement mechanism with due process exists to depend on. Here in Texas, all we can do is pray for the men and women of Michoacán who if forced to return back to a state of cartel control, will most likely brutal retribution by the cartels while the government and law enforcement agencies look the other way. The only choice now is for Dr. Mireles, Simon the American, and the brave citizens of Michoacán to assert the natural right to bear arms by fighting their way to self determination.

Artemio Muniz, Jr. is a law student at South Texas School of Law.

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