AYUTLA, Mexico—Masked men, rifles slung over their shoulders, stand guard on a lonely rural road, checking IDs and questioning travelers. They wear no uniforms, flash no badges, but they are the law here now.
A dozen villages in the area have risen up in armed revolt against local drug traffickers that have terrorized the region and a government that residents say is incapable of protecting them from organized crime.
The villages in the hilly southern Mexican state of Guerrero now forbid the Mexican army and state and federal police from entering. Ragtag militias carrying a motley arsenal of machetes, old hunting rifles and the occasional AR-15 semiautomatic rifle control the towns. Strangers aren’t allowed entry. There is a 10 p.m. curfew. More than 50 prisoners, accused of being in drug gangs, sit in makeshift jails. Their fates hinge on public trials that began Thursday when the accused were arraigned before villagers, who will act as judge and jury.
…but it should not be a surprise. After all, what is happening in large parts of Mexico is rapidly approaching anarchy, and just in case nobody’s told you this yet: anarchy sucks. In fact, as Randy Milholland once succinctly put it: “Anarchy is your sixth-grade gym class for all eternity!” …And, strangely enough, the idea of actually being in the state of nature sounds a lot less appealing to a subsistence farmer than it does to, say, a spoiled-brat Occupier who defines ‘oppression’ as ‘slow wi-fi.’ So it’s entirely natural that, when faced with a breakdown in external order, a population decides to impose some. It’s also entirely natural that the end result would be a good deal more sloppy than expected, particularly if the whole thing lacks the perceived legitimacy that larger institutions enjoy. Again, the end result of all of this will probably not be pleasant, by our standards. They’ll end up hanging people – including people who didn’t deserve to be hanged – and there’s always the strong likelihood of a full-fledged reinado del terror. I kind of expect one, actually. But the farmers will be able to reliably bring a crop in, which is the primary metric for a functional society.
I suggest that the anarchists try to keep that in mind. Not that they’re going to listen to me, of course.