Michoacan, Mexico, Breaks Bad — Again — After Shootout Between Rival Militias Kills 11

What lessons can be learned from the situation in Mexico? Is the current paradigm of community defense the best model? 


Hipólito Mora, founder of the first autodefensa civilian militia in Michoacán, Mexico, stood in the scorching sun on Wednesday at the site where his son was killed in a shootout the previous day, the latest sign that the troubled western state is far from being pacified.

“It’s gotten worse. I don’t care who that bothers, I’m going to speak the truth,” Mora told reporters on the road running past his ranch in the town of La Ruana, 340 miles west of Mexico City, where a battle between his self-defense group and a rival autodefensa from the nearest town claimed 11 lives on Tuesday, including Mora’s son.

“I’m inconvenient for people who are only interested in money and power,” he said.

The deadly shootout was the latest confrontation between men loyal to Mora, a lime grower, and others who follow Luis Antonio Torres, a.k.a. El Americano, who was born in the United States and leads a separate self-defense force just 11 miles down the road in the town of Buenavista.

Mora’s son Manuel, 32, was among those killed. He was buried on Thursday.

Federal and military forces moved into La Ruana in response, while state authorities signaled they would seek the arrests of 50 people — including Hipólito Mora — in connection to the daylight battle partially recorded in amateur footage below.

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