GUN-toting kids as young as six are quitting school in Mexico to help fight vicious drug cartel gangsters.
Urged by their scared parents to take up arms, young villagers are being trained to defend their family and friends from marauding thugs controlling nearby territory, a horrifying report shows.
Lopez Obrador’s government has struggled to get a grip on gangs and violence, so kids are having to learn to defend themselves[/caption]
An investigation by news agency Reuters has revealed that girls and boys in Ayahualtempa, Rincon de Chautla and other villages are receiving military-style weapons training to fend off attacks from cartels.
Abuner Martinez, 16, stopped attending school a year ago after his father was kidnapped outside CRAC-PF territory, tortured, and then beheaded.
“I got scared at that moment. I didn’t want to go to school,” said Martinez, who now wields a shotgun as he guards a checkpoint.
Desperate villagers are learning military manoeuvres to protect their loved ones.
David Sanchez Luna’s mother-in-law, 56, was tortured and killed after daring to venture out of her small Mexican community encircled by drug cartels.
His distraught wife, Alberta, sobbed as she described receiving her mom’s body riddled with torture marks.
“It’s terrible what’s happening to us,” she said, wiping away tears.
After her horrific death, David let his daughters – aged just seven and ten – be trained how to use guns.
The corn farmer lives in the violence-plagued southwestern Guerrero state, where kids are afraid to attend school, and those living in the enclave of 16 mountain villages are too scared to leave their ‘enclave’.
Five years ago, the rugged region formed a self-defence “community police” militia to protect itself.
David told Reuters that kids, too, are being armed “to prepare themselves to defend the family, their siblings and defend the village”.
In Ayahualtempa, 13-year-old Alex told The Washington Post that he had once hoped to become a schoolteacher.
Now, though, he spends his days training how to use a hunting rifle, joining other armed kids wearing uniforms with “Community Police” in yellow letters.
He told reporters: “I’m preparing to defend my village.”
The Post says that about 600 indigenous people live in Ayahualtempa.
Kids and adults are trying to fend off raids from a powerful drug cartel, Los Ardillos.
I’m preparing to defend my village.
Alex, 13, Ayahualtempa
However, the move by villagers to offer arms training to school-age children has shocked the nation.
Their defensive reaction made global headlines last month after local media broadcast images of children as young as six toting guns and showing off military manoeuvres.
Elders in the mainly indigenous community near the city of Chilapa privately admit that young kids would not be used to fight cartel gunmen.
But they say their gambit to get the help of far-away officials in Mexico City is borne of desperation for help.
Ten musicians from the area were ambushed and killed last month by suspected Los Ardillos cartel members.
Officials said their bodies were burnt as they had dared to step out of the territory guarded by their self-defence militia, known as CRAC-PF.
The victims were aged between 15 and 42, and their remains were burnt beyond recognition, reports the BBC.
The vile attack followed a spate of murders in recent year, including a beheading, that rattled the 6,500 residents, Reuters adds.
Parents say their children are forced to stop formal education once they reach about 12 years of age, as the middle schools are in territory controlled by the cartel.
Lopez Obrador’s government has struggled to get a grip on gangs and violence, with a record 35,588 homicides last year, the most since comparable records began to be kept in the 1990s.
Obrador, who took office in December 2019, has in the past referred to his security strategy as hugs not bullets and emphasizes addressing root causes of violence such as poverty, youth unemployment and corruption.
Unfortunately for innocent people trying to eke out a living in Guerrero – one of Mexico’s most violent states – the area sits amid fertile poppy-growing farmland that feed the region’s heroin trade and supply routes to the US.
The grisly murders and siege-like conditions facing residents go to the heart of cartel power and state failure in modern Mexico, says Reuters.
Latest in news
There are some 70,000 troops nationwide, but cops and troops often find themselves outgunned by the cartels.
Violence – including murder – has been creeping out of Mexican barrios, or neighborhoods, and closer to the tourist enclaves.
The Sun reported last year how a new generation of violent drug gangs are waging a bloody war in the tourist hotspots of Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Do you have a story for The US Sun team?