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Friday, October 31 2014 @ 07:24 PM CDT

Mexican town finds more security and peace by throwing out the police

Police State

The indigenous town of Cherán used to be like many places in Mexico, caving under the weight of drug-related crime and a police force that did little to stop it. But about two years ago, citizens here threw out the police, and took over their local government, running the town according to indigenous tradition. So far, they’ve had remarkable success.

Mexican town finds more security and peace by throwing out the police

By The Christian Science Monitor
Thursday, March 14, 2013

The indigenous town of Cherán used to be like many places in Mexico, caving under the weight of drug-related crime and a police force that did little to stop it.

But about two years ago, citizens here threw out the police, and took over their local government, running the town according to indigenous tradition. So far, they’ve had remarkable success.

Indigenous autonomy movements, like the one in Cherán, are a trend throughout Latin America, scholars say, from movements like the Zapatistas in Chiapas in the 1990s; to communities seeking to self-govern today in places like Chile and Bolivia.

The response from national governments can vary wildly, says Shannon Speed, professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Cherán has been in part so successful because of the particular context in which it happened, one in which government doesn’t have much control to begin with. So it’s pretty happy to say, ‘Sure, go govern yourself,’” says Ms. Speed, who specializes in indigenous issues, human rights, and the law.

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