Things in Mexico have taken a drastic turn of late in the state of Michoacan, where the cartel known as the Knights Templar or Templarios has been under attack by what seem to be well-armed vigilantes. The vigilantes have been grouped, per what I have read, primarily under two men: Dr. Mirales and Mr. Beltran. Dr. Mirales was recently injured in a small plane crash but survived and in his absence, Mr. Beltran has seemed to become the public voice of the vigilantes. However, I've seen news reports lately indicating that Dr. Mirales is back making statements to the media. Some news reports hold the vigilantes out to either be soldiers for a warring cartel, trying to step into the shoes of the Templarios and just more or less like the Who said decades ago, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss". Here's an article from today's L.A. Times about the current state of combat in a town of just over 30,000 residents. Although the photos I've seen show the vigilantes to be armed with AR-15/M-4 and AK-47's and an occasional handgun, I'm thinking these are not the guns of a cartel supplied army. The vigilantes do not appear to be overarmed or over supplied with ammo. Many do appear to be wearing some sort of bulletproof or flak vest, but the vests are not set up like someone going into combat with money to spare would have them, i.e. well supplied with extra magazines, a handgun and magazines, a knife, etc. In other words, to me the vigilantes do appear to be normal citizen types, particularly in some photos I've seen with their weapon selection (many hunting rifles and hunting shotguns instead of assault weapons) leads me to believe, along with their under-equipped state, that they are getting arms as they go and are not cartel supplied. TIME magazine featured a photo spread on the conflict, as the Mexican Federal Government moved in. The vigilantes have agreed, as I understand it, to cease liberating communities (i.e. coming in and killing the Templarios) but they have refused to surrender their arms to the Mexican government. Good for them. There have been numerous events in the past in Mexico that could have served as a catalyst for revolution, but to me this seems to be the closest they have been. I get much of my information from several websites that feature reporting focused on the cartel violence all over Mexico, and my favorite is BORDERLAND BEAT. I'll link to some others later. And of course, the same reports you see in main stream media reports are often reported in more depth on some of the blogs that cover this tragedy. So the vigilantes state that they are regular people of Michoacan and that first the cartels came in over a decade ago with the drug trade. Then they began controlling the ports of the state. The cartels expanded into blackmail, kidnapping, extortion and such among the local populations and businesses. It is often alleged that virtually every facet of government is controlled by the cartels, and not just in Michoacan but in all the other Mexican states, if not the national government. So far, the Mexican Navy seems to be the only entity that is somewhat immune to corruption from the cartels. The vigilantes say that as the cartels, the latest being the Templarios, began taking over local businesses and such, they also took over lime and avocado farms and took a fee from every basket produced. The Templars either are or were using the large Pacific port in the state to import precursers for methamphetamine and other drugs direct from China by the tanker load as well as taking in cocaine from South America. That's big money. Enough billions to buy a government. The vigilantes say that then the cartel members began raiding their towns and villages and taking their wives and daughters for rape and torture and that this was the last straw. They armed themselves and began attacking small villages and towns, killing the cartel members. There have not been reports of major casualties on the sides of the vigilantes or the citizens of these towns, and they had been exhibiting growing success in attacking the cartel members and moving up in size as to the towns they were liberating from the cartel members. Finally, earlier this week the Mexican Federal Government moved in and stopped the vigilantes from attacking a town of about 90,000. It seems as if the army did some shooting and apparently an 11 year old girl and several others were killed. The vigilantes are being held at a stalemate by the Federal Mexican Government and being told to stand down and disarm. As I said, the vigilantes have opted to remain armed but agreed to stand down. Certainly, anyone with a passing interest in the news knows the high numbers of innocents that have been killed by the different cartels all over Mexico in all kinds of tragic attacks. The gruesomeness (i.e. beheadings) of some of the attacks is unseen outside the third world, and it seems there is much venom and hatred and evil in the motives for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, who have died in the past 15 years or so due to cartel violence of some kind. Mexico now is worse than it was in the days of Pancho Villa, it seems. Lawlessness rages everywhere, as does injustice and corruption. Innocents are killed nowadays, whereas in the past I think an innocent was rarely killed. The state and the federal governments of Mexico seem to be, in large part, bought and paid for, and where it seems the government employees are incorruptible, they are killed. Some of you may remember the young 20 year old woman, Marisol Valles Garcia, a criminal justice major in college, who several years ago dared to become the police chief of her small Mexican community, Praxedis somewhere near the Texas border. The media heralded her as a brave citizen, fed up with corruption and the cartels and how they affect the lives of average Mexican citizens, even in small towns like the one she hailed from. She is now in Texas, seeking asylum because of the death threats against her and her family. The cartels, wheresoever located, will not go gentle into that good night if the vigilante movement spreads throughout the country. The Mexican government of obviously afraid that this vigilante movement might spread to other parts of the country. Perhaps the status quo in the government is afraid their payoffs will stop or are afraid that if the cartels tumble they will be exposed as criminals themselves. The freedom of the law abiding Mexican citizens in Michoacan is at grave danger right now. These people had lost their freedom. Now, after their fellow citizens dare to start taking back what is theirs from the Templarios, the government comes to the rescue of the Templarios. Where is the Mexican Navy and why are they not taking out the Templarios that the vigilantes have not gotten yet. I hope the rest of the citizens of Mexico take the acts of Dr. Mirales and Mr. Beltran and their fellow citizens to heart and do the same in their locale. Take their county back and then go to work on their government. As the old saying goes, you may choose silver or lead. It is your choice when asked to dance with the cartels. You will take silver, or more increasingly pay silver, or take lead bullets. Soon, the choice for the cartels may be lead or life (if you run now).