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Mexican indigenous community takes on armed gangs

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 10:42

Mexico City: Around 17,000 people from an
indigenous group in western Mexico have blocked access to
their community and declared a "state of siege" against armed
groups protecting illegal loggers, a spokesman said.
"It`s a desperate measure" faced with the lack of
security from federal authorities, a spokesman for the
Purepecha community told a news conference yesterday in Mexico
City, wearing a face mask to remain anonymous.

It was a "self-imposed state of siege" that started
April 15 in the village of Cheran, in Michoacan state, not far
from famous sanctuaries for migrating Monarch butterflies, the
spokesman said.

The community started the blockade after armed men
fired on some of its members after they captured illegal
loggers to hand them over to the authorities, he added.

An armed group entered the community on April 27 and
killed two people. Since 2008, nine have been killed and five
others have disappeared, he said.
Illegal loggers have deforested 80 percent of some
30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of the region`s forests in more
than three years, according to the community.

"But during the past year, the groups seem to be
supported by organized crime groups," the spokesman said.

Michoacan is one of a string of regions hit by rising
violence blamed on drug gangs since the launch of a government
offensive on organized crime in December 2006.


First Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 10:42

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