Over 100 Mexican Women Take Up Arms to Defend Community in Xaltianguis

Huffington Post, August 20, 2013

More than 100 women in the southern Mexican town of Xaltianguis have taken up arms to protect their community from organized crime groups, a local self-defense force official said Monday.

The women signed up over the past four days with the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State, or UPOEG, Xaltianguis community self-defense force commander Miguel Angel Jimenez told reporters.

“We have an average of nine groups” of community police, with each one made up of 12 women who will work in the daytime in the neighborhoods of Xaltianguis, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the resort city of Acapulco, Jimenez said.

The women will be trained in the use of firearms and carry the same weapons as men, Jimenez said.

The vigilante group has only about 80 firearms and the weapons are rotated among members, Jimenez said.

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Women were among the biggest supporters when the community self-defense forces were being formed, telling men that “either you join or I join,” Jimenez said.

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UPOEG, whose members are armed and wear hoods, was created in January in Guerrero state’s Costa Chica region.

The self-defense group controls access to communities and polices them to fight crime blamed on drug traffickers and other organized crime groups.

Vigilante groups have appeared in recent months in several Mexican states, with the largest number being reported in Guerrero and the western state of Michoacan.

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