Civilian Militias in the State of Michoachán

A young man dressed in traditional attire holds an assault rifle during a ceremony in La Ruana community, state of Michoacan, Mexico, on February 24, 2014. The members of groups of civilians who took arms to fight the drug cartels gathered today to celebrate their first anniversary.

The Mexican state of Michoachán is undergoing dramatic changes. Not only have armed civilian vigilantes taken to fighting one of the state’s most notorious gangs, The Knights Templar, but recently many of the local police forces have been replaced by specially-trained citizens. Both official and unofficial task forces, have the goal of making life for citizens safer, easier, and more secure.

Besides these changes to the peacekeeping of Michoachán, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto recently announced his government would invest $3.4 billion in social and infrastructure programs.

What is the government’s relationship with the vigilantes? Will this monetary aid affect the state the way Pena Nieto intends? Our political commentator Laura Carlsen joined us in Washington to discuss the Knights Templar, the vigilantes, and the influence of Michoachán on other Mexican states.

Political commentator Laura Carlsen provides insight into what is happening in the state of Michoachán.