GUERRERO: THE SIEGE AGAINST THE CRAC-PC
By: Luis Hernández Navarro
Relentlessly pursued by the government and internally divided, the community police and the systems of community justice of Guerrero are living through a grave crisis. Arbitrary arrests of its leaders have happened one after another, the formation of rural police sponsored by the government and grave aggressions of one group against the other.
One week ago, on June 17, Guerrero’s ministerial police detained and brutally beat the spokesperson of the Council of Ejidos and Com munities Opposed to La Parota Dam, Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz. He is pointed to as the one probably responsible for “the commission of different illicit acts.” Recently, Marco Antonio organized a self-defense group in the rural Acapulco zone, with the support of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC).
This weekend, deputies from the PRD, Citizen Movement and Heladio Aguirre, will intervene in favor of the community police leader of Olinalá, Nestora Salgado. Comandanta Salgado is unjustly detained in the Tepic women’s federal prison and has been the victim of serious violations of his rights.
On June 20, 18 communities of the Sierra received in the municipality of Leonardo Bravo, with flowers and a fiesta, the first generation of the state’s rural community police. This new armed force is a presidential initiative to stop the expansion of the authentic community police.
One day later, the CRAC-PC faction led by Eliseo Villar Castillo attempted to violently takeover the historic seat of the San Luis Acatlán House of Justice, in which its detractors participate. At least one community police agent died.
The Eliseo Villar group has the support of Governor Angel Aguirre. The relationship between the two is close. The journalist Sergio Ocampo tells that the governor declared that Eliseo supported him in his campaign, gave him a calf, is his friend and now he’s going to reciprocate. That’s how he did it. His faction, besides having open doors in different government offices, he receives around one million pesos per month.
The conflict has a historia behind it. In 2013, the CRAC suffered a strong implosion. The internal cohesion cracked and different groups and leaders disputed the leadership of the movement and interlocution with the State. The currents attacked each other furiously and launched grave accusations in each other’s faces: paramilitaries, agents of the government and traitors. The essence and direction of the original project was lost.
In its 19 years of life, the CRAC has suffered three ruptures. The first, with the group that vindicated itself as “founding peoples,” founded the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (Upoeg, its initials in Spanish) in 2010, was expelled from the Coordinator, and in June and September 2013 it unsuccessfully tried to takeover the San Luis Acatlán House of Justice. The second, also in 2013, was the product of the clash between the communities of Tixtla, Olinalá and Ayutla, which followed a more radical dynamic of social mobilization. And the third, resulted from a severe fracture inside the leadership team of the House of Justice.
The state government’s intervention has been a key factor in the development and exacerbation of the internal contradictions of the Coordinator. The authorities seek to domesticate it anyway possible, take away its autonomist edge and impose its agenda by virtue of financial cannon shots and repression. The local and federal governments desire to disappear by any means the spaces of resistance to the mining invasion in the zone. Curiously, all the parties in the fight admit that the government foments the internal quarrel.
The tragic confrontation last June 21 is the latest link of the third rupture. Originally its protagonists made up part of the same group. In fact, it was their dispute with the leadership team of the Upoeg that opened the door for Eliseo Villar to lead the CRAC. The fear that people from the Upoeg would come to the front of the Coordinator led them to promote a hard personage to confront them, overlooking their traditions. Eliseo was that figure: a police agent without a long community trajectory.
The fracture inside this group was produced when Eliseo Villar installed an agenda very pragmatic and very tied with the state’s interests, confronting a sector of majority communities in San Luis Acatlán, advised by Valentín Hernández Chapa and Pablo Guzmán.
According to Abel Barrera, Eliseo’s agenda at the front of the Coordinator is guided by the search for support to productive projects, increasing the economic resources that the state government gives them and obtaining money for the construction of the houses of justice, armament and uniforms. This orientation had as a final result that the most political theme, the theme of how to strengthen a security model of the peoples from their own cosmovision and autonomy, was blurred. Villar began to manage that resource without transparency or rendering accounts. His opponents accuse him of diverting 740,000 pesos. Additionally, he refused to struggle for the freedom of imprisoned community leaders.
His detractors removed Eliseo Villar in an assembly held on March 31, 2014. The deposed coordinator denied the validity of the act and said that his adversaries were a minority.
Those who failed to recognize Villar –Abel Barrera explains– are part of a mixed coalition of advisors, coordinators, commissioners and ex commissioners –historic leaders of the Costa-Montaña region–, who have greater clarity about the original sense of the project. Their axes of action consist of having coordinators truly subordinate to assembly decisions, naming the police in the communities, respecting and complying with internal rules, and promoting the re-education of those who commit crimes.
The governmental siege on the community police of Guerrero advances. The Eliseo Villar group’s attempt to take overthe historic San Luis Acatlán House of Justice is no more than the latest play to achieve it.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Tuesday, June 24, 2014