By Tyler Bauer
I recently highlighted the extreme amount of political unrest and violence in Mexico leading up to this past Sunday’s elections. A Vice article published around the same time tells the story of the Mexican town of Cherán, with a population of 20,000. This small town threw out all of their politicians, cops, and criminals in 2011.
Much like many other Mexican towns, Cherán has been hit hard by organized crime, drug trafficking, and illegal logging of nearby forests. Local mobs forced the illegal loggers out, as well as the cops who protected them, and also forced out all of the politicians and political parties who provided cover for the cops and loggers. The men and women of Cherán took it upon themselves to clean up their town by forming a local militia they used to bring back the rule of law.
Now, they have maintained their autonomous militia that enforces the rule of law in Cherán, which is now tasked with preventing contraband from making its way into town and protecting the nearby forests. Cherán is still heavily dependent on the Mexican federal government, but it has achieved a rare feat in Mexico. Cherán has seen a remarkable drop in murder rates and has virtually eliminated violent crimes. Although this past year has been full of violence in Mexico, Cherán is proof that citizens can come together to do what politicians can’t – run a clean, effective government that keeps its constituents safe.
Although no other cities or towns have followed Cherán’s lead, Cherán is a source of hope and inspiration in what many hope will be a new and improved Mexico under Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s new leftist president.
For a longer piece on Cherán, I recommend reading the BBC’s piece from 2016.