News / Americas

Mexican Official Pledges Swift Return to Order in Michoacan

A Mexican federal policeman stands on the back of a police truck while loading fuel at a gas station in Tepalcatepec, Jan. 15, 2014.
A Mexican federal policeman stands on the back of a police truck while loading fuel at a gas station in Tepalcatepec, Jan. 15, 2014.
Reuters
— Mexico will deliver “immediate change” to a troubled state in the west of the country that has been shaken by conflict between a powerful drug gang and heavily armed vigilantes, a newly named government official said on Thursday.
 
The government this week stepped up efforts to restore order in the impoverished, agricultural state of Michoacan, where violence has stained the security record of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office at the end of 2012.
 
Large swaths of the state have been under the control of the Knights Templar drug cartel, but earlier this month, local vigilante groups began occupying much of the gang's heartland.
 
On Monday, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong intervened, ordering the vigilantes to stand down, and on Wednesday he named Alfredo Castillo, a close ally of Pena Nieto, as federal government commissioner for Michoacan.
 
“The changes are going to be visible immediately,” Castillo told Mexican radio when asked how quickly the government would restore order in Michoacan. “But to get to the ultimate objective ... that will happen as fast as is humanly possible.”
 
The fighting in Michoacan this week converged on the city of Apatzingan, a stronghold of the Knights Templar drug gang where hundreds of federal police and soldiers moved in on Tuesday.
 
Late on Wednesday night, gunmen strafed the premises of the federal attorney general in Apatzingan, not far from where security forces were protecting the mayor's office.
 
The appointment of Castillo, who will have sweeping powers, brings the unrest in Michoacan a step closer to Pena Nieto.
 
The president has so far kept his distance from Mexico's security problems, preferring to focus on a series of reforms he hopes will revitalize the economy.
 
Pena Nieto's predecessor, Felipe Calderon, spent much of his administration bogged down in a fight to root out the gangs.
 
Though Calderon's government captured or killed many of the capos, murders increased. More than 80,000 people have died in gang-related violence since Calderon began his military offensive against the cartels in Michoacan seven years ago.
 
Homicides have dipped overall in Mexico under Pena Nieto, but murders in Michoacan hit a 15-year high last year and in October a local bishop likened it to a failed state.
 
Pena Nieto won office pledging to restore order in Mexico, but Michoacan has raised doubts about his security strategy and risks miring him in a messy conflict with no easy way out.
 
Although the government has ordered the vigilantes to stand down, the self-styled defense groups have refused, and security forces turned a blind eye to them around Apatzingan.
 
The arrival of Castillo strengthens the hand of the federal government in Michoacan, with Mexican newspaper Reforma running a headline on its front page on Thursday saying he had effectively “erased” the state's governor, Fausto Vallejo.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More