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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More