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“If the Government Wants War, then War it Shall Have”: Mireles (Francisco Castellanos J., PROCESO)

This article was first published in Proceso on 15 March 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

“If the government wants war, then war it shall have”: Mireles
by Francisco Castellanos J. (PROCESO)

TEPALCATEPEC, Mich., (apro). – José Manuel Mireles Valverde, member of the Michoacán Self-Defense Council (known in Spanish by its acronym, CAM) accused Enrique Peña Nieto’s government of betraying them and censoring the media that is telling the truth about a social movement that has now lasted for longer than one year.

Interviewed in Tepalcatepec, the community leader confirmed that the Council is troubled by the arrest of Hipólito Mora Chávez, a founder of the movement against organized crime. Mora Chávez was arrested after a meeting with Michoacán’s security chief, Commissioner Alfredo Castillo who was trying to calm the quarrel between Mora and Simón, “El Americano.”

According to Mireles, the arrest resulted from a trap because Mora was delivered to the Attorney General for his alleged responsibility in the murders of Rafael Sánchez Moreno, “El Pollo,” and José Luis Torres Castañeda, “El Niño,” both executed and incinerated on 8 March.

The CAM met this past weekend in La Ganadera, where the self-defense forces expressed their annoyance with the federal government. In a press release, Mireles Valverde accused Enrique Peña Nieto’s government of “betrayal.”

“If the government wants a war, then a war it will have. It betrayed us. They met with us saying that we were allies: three days before [his arrest] Hipólito sat down with Commissioner Alfredo Castillo as “friends” and Mora Chávez demanded agreements. And how did the damned government respond?”

“The government jailed Hipólito and wants to arrest the other leaders. And it’s destroying the image of our self-defense forces by paying the media for unfounded stories, saying we are criminals. That’s a lie. Nobody messes with Michoacán, not even the damned government,” he maintained.

Mireles said that Carmen Aristegui’s program is proof of the government’s censorship because she frequently interviews CAM leaders but that the show is not broadcase in Michoacán.

“When I was recovering in Mexico [Mireles was injured in a plane crash in January] they did not let me speak to Paco Castellanos or any other reporter from Proceso. Mexico’s national security agency, CISEN, confiscated my telephones and they were very bothered by Proceso’s ongoing coverage of the self-defense movement, enemy number one of Peña Nieto’s government.”

Mireles revealed that he was told, “It’s strictly forbidden for you to speak with those bastards. So, they took my cell phones from me. That’s why I never answered the phone when people were asking me to give my usual interviews.”

He also emphatically maintains that the government, “with the national press’s support sold themselves out, and began to undermine the self-defense forces by low blows: alleging its leaders had criminal histories, never providing proof, only hearsay.”

He added that the government “manipulates” things, beginning a series of telephone surveys “designed to damage” the self-defense forces’ prestige.

“They are a bunch of narco politicians and they rule us. Can nobody really say anything about them?”

“The great heroes who gave us this country really weren’t the best people. So the government fears that Mexico will wake up. But with social networks it’s impossible for the government to take us for a ride,” Mireles said.

“The surveys put the safety of Michoacanos at risk since they ask people for opinions about the self-defense forces. The questions always look to damage the movement. It would be better for people to hang up the phone. Nobody should take this sort of call. They are ringing from telephone numbers in Mexico City that begin with 55,” Mireles said.

According to the leader of the self-defense forces, they are conducting surveys with “rigged data” in cities such as Uruapan, Morelia, Los Reyes, Zamora, Zacápu, Zitácuaro, Pátzcuaro, Lázaro Cárdenas, Los Reyes [sic.] Múgica and others.

This Monday, during an interview on Carmen Aristegui’s show Mesa de Análisis with Lorenzo Meyer and Sergio Aguayo, the self-defense force leader from Tepalcatepec also accused the government of trying to eliminate them in spite of the fact that the self-defense forces are “carrying out their job of cleaning the state.”

Mireles also insisted that the self-defence forces have not broken with the government. He emphasized that the authorities have not lived up to the original agreements with the self-defense forces’ general council and it does not trust them because whenever they talk with the press, there are repercussions.

By way of an example of these repercussions, Mireles labeled the agreements signed between the government and the self-defense fores as “pure theater.” After Mireles gave an interview to newspaper El País and to Carmen Aristegui, authorities withdrew federal bodyguards who had been protecting his son.

Journalist Francisco Castellanos J. reports from Michoacán for Proceso, Mexico’s weekly news magazine. This article first appeared under the title, “‘Si el gobierno quiere guerra, guerra tendrá’: Mireles,” available at: http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=367446.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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