La Jornada reported on Sunday that members of self-defense militias in 15 towns throughout Mexico’s Tierra Caliente staged protests against the government’s disarmament of the militias, protesting that it would leave them undefended against Knights Templar drug cartel members.  Federal forces began the disarmament on Saturday night, when the detention of at least 15 militia members in one town sparked demonstrations among their peers across the region.  José Manuel Mireles, spokesman for the militias in the state of Michoacán, said the government had yet to fully live up to an earlier accord which registered the groups’ weapons and granted them a limited measure of legitimacy in fighting cartels.

Mireles and two other spokesmen for area militias told Animal Politico that as many as five of the eight tenets of the accord were as yet unfulfilled by the government – perhaps most importantly, the agreed-upon incorporation of the militias into a temporary rural-defense corps which would answer to government authorities.  For this to happen, militias would need to provide the government with a list of members’ names.  Alberto Gutiérrez, one of the militia spokesmen, said the militias had done that.

“We’ve insisted that the government finish not only with the registering of weapons, but also with the registry of people who belong to the self-defense groups, but they only tell us that we have to wait and that this will happen in another phase,” Gutiérrez said. 

Mireles indicated that the groups would not cooperate with the attempt at disarming them.  “We’ll put down our arms when the federal government finishes cleaning up the state of criminals,” he said, before going on to accuse the state police commissioner, Alfredo Castillo, of trying to “win a war through the media”, and demand his resignation “because he doesn’t do things the way he says in the media.”

“The shootings and kidnappings are still going on here in  Michoacán.  We need a state free of criminals, the reestablishment of the rule of law.  It’s not too much to ask.”