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Riot police battling protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway, Oaxaca, Mexico June 19, 2016 (AP Photo by Luis Alberto Cruz Hernandez).

Local Governance Vacuums Are at the Heart of Mexico’s Teachers’ Protests

, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016

Two years ago, the state of Michoacan on the southwestern coast of Mexico saw the rise of so-called self-defense groups. These were heterogeneous groups comprised of a mix of locals genuinely exasperated with the authorities’ inability to protect them from organized crime and cells of criminal organizations rivaling the state’s predominant drug cartel, the Knights Templar.

Much has changed with regard to self-defense groups since then. In early 2014, federal forces took over security of large parts of Michoacan as the state government had become overwhelmed and largely infiltrated by organized crime. After tense negotiations with the federal government, self-defense groups were partially dissolved and integrated into local police forces. Others that were less cooperative with the government were imprisoned, often for violating Mexican guns laws. Yet another faction simply disbanded amid accusations they had been working for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a rival to the Knights Templar that has become one of the country’s most powerful drug-trafficking organizations. ...

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