One of Sicilia’s principal goals is to stop the militarization of the country. His movement feels that, by employing thousands of soldiers in 2006 to fight organized crime, the Calderón-administration has led the country into a fight it cannot win, where citizens have become trapped in the crossfire between violent organized crime groups and a law enforcement effort unable to contain the violence. Thousands of serious allegations of human rights violations by the military fuelled this discontent and caused both Sedena (National Defense Secretariat) and Semar (Navy) to lose its traditionally solid public support.There are definitely a lot of problems with the ongoing use of the military, especially when coupled with a plainly insufficient drive to create a police force capable of replacing it on domestic security issues in the near future. Nonetheless, most people want the military out on the streets, as demonstrated by surveys from several different pollsters, as well as the typical reaction to spikes in violence from local leaders like those of Cherán. Given that, I think Sicilia and co. should focus more on educating the public as to why using the army and marines is a bad idea. His point of view is valid, as Hootsen says, but it's a minority opinion on a relatively simple question.
Javier Sicilia’s demands are valid and need to be taken seriously by the Mexican government. There is, however, one problem that his movement might encounter in the future. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity has become an umbrella for a great many social movements, all with their own complaints and demands. Support for his cause comes from disenchanted farmers from Mexico State, women’s rights organizations from Chihuahua, environmental activists from Chiapas and traditional pressure groups such as the Zapatist Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and unions.
One of the groups supporting Sicilia is the now autonomous community of Cherán, in Michoacán state. Since April this year, the (mostly indigenous) inhabitants of Cherán have risen in resistance to the destruction of their environment by illegal logging, which is allegedly sponsored by regional organized crime. When I visited Cherán one week ago, locals implored the federal government to send troops. Perhaps their most serious complaint wasn’t the presence of soldiers, it was actually the absence of the military.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sicilia's Big Idea and Its Popularity
Pinche holandés Jan-Albert Hootsen has an interesting column on the problems inherent in Sicilia's movement: