The inhabitants of Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro and Uruapan, in Michoacán, woke up this morning to the sound of bullets and bursts ringing in their municipality from one street to another. For several hours, clashes took place between civilians and civilians, civilians and the National Guard, or civilians and military against what are known as ‘monsters’, vehicles modified for combat and which advanced from one place to another firing high-caliber shots as if they were a tank. The balance of the “battle” was four dead and 32 arrested, confirmed the Michoacán police.
José Alfredo Ortega, a retired Army general who acts as Secretary of Public Security of Michoacán, confirmed that the clashes began around 8:00 in the morning, when a group of hitmen attacked the mayor’s building with assault rifles. The officer explained that the Army, the National Guard and the state police were deployed in this indigenous municipality where the neighbors were spreading shocking videos on social networks about the violence they were experiencing when dozens of hitmen confronted each other with Barrett and AK-47. “As of 8 in the morning, an attack on the town began, specifically on the Municipal Presidency, several shots were fired, there was a damaged bus somewhere. So far, 32 detainees have been registered, four deceased. The detainees are being transferred to Morelia (state capital),” said the police chief. The Prosecutor’s Office later increased the death toll to five. In addition to Ortega, the state coordinator of the National Guard, Gregorio López, and the commander of the 21 Military Zone, Francisco Subía, all accompanied by dozens of patrols and men, went to the scene.
The Tierra Caliente area is the center of dispute between different local cartels, almost familiar, and Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) that fight in many other municipalities of Michoacán. Nuevo San Juan is a Purépecha indigenous municipality, which is governed by the Law of Uses and Customs, for which members of the community itself are in charge of surveillance through a group called “community patrol”. This Thursday’s confrontation was not limited to these two towns, but spread through Matanguaran and Cheranguerán, near Uruapan, where, so far, no deaths or arrests have been announced. It is unknown if the deceased are collateral victims of the violence or were members of organized crime.
Precisely on Wednesday, Ken Salazar, United States ambassador to Mexico, visited Uruapan, the most important region in the world for avocado production. The area is experiencing a wave of violence between cartels that forced the United States to temporarily paralyze its imports due to threats received by its observers on the ground. During his visit, Salazar warned that, although exports have resumed, insecurity continues in Michoacán. “It is clear that we do not recommend that tourists come, but that is why there is a decision to work until there is security,” he told local media. Salazar insisted that he will seek with the authorities to improve security, not only to guarantee the avocado export chain, but also for tourism in his country. “I visited avocado growers and packers in Michoacán. It became clear to me the true value that “green gold” has for our supply chains, for producer families, and for the prosperity of the region,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
A similar confrontation occurred in June when the CJNG arrived at dawn and ambushed a group of state police in Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro. Until its appearance in the pages of violence, the historic Purépecha town of Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro was only on the pages of history books. The ‘New’ municipality owes its name to the ‘old’ Parangaricutiro, a town abandoned since 1943, when it practically disappeared under the Paricutin lava. A year later their disappearance was decreed and most of the inhabitants of the municipality moved to Uruapan and Ahuanitzaro. In 1950 it recovered the category of Municipality a few kilometers further from the previous one with the name of New San Juan Parangaricutiro.
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