Self-defense groups, or the so-called "community militias," are a social phenomenon that has been multiplying throughout the Mexican territory.
In a desperate attempt to end a cycle of violence, traditional communities organize themselves into a force antagonistic to government authorities and drug cartels.
Based on the customary law of the Mexican constitution, which guarantees some form of self-determination for indigenous peoples, civilians resort to methods reminiscent of Latin American conflicts of the last century to defend themselves.
In the mountains of the state of Guerrero, indigenous people from the small village of Ayahualtempa resort to desperate forms of resistance. Between state abandonment and drug trafficking, nearly all the men in the community have enlisted as part of the community police. So far, Guerrero is the state with the most armed civilians: 23 self-defense groups operating in 70% of the territory, according to a report by the State Coordination of Reconstruction and Peace.
So distressed was the community that it organized to teach introductory survival and guerrilla warfare tactics to children, a decision that comes after several poorly publicized demonstrations in the national media. In a media ceremony seeking government attention, the community police invite boys and girls aged 10 to 15 to perform military positions in the village's sports plaza.
Many orphans, victims of the violent context that plagues the region, boys are taught to defend themselves under the pretext that soon they may have no one to protect them.
Military initiation takes place with unloaded rifles for the older ones. The younger ones carry rifle simulacrums or even pieces of wood to simulate the rehearsed movements.