Over 100 women take up arms in Mexico to defend community

MEXICO SECURITY

Housewives are introduced on Sunday as the newest members of the self-defense force in the southern Mexican town of Xaltianguis. EFE
Housewives are introduced on Sunday as the newest members of the self-defense force in the southern Mexican town of Xaltianguis. EFE

— More than 100 women in the southern Mexican town of Xaltianguis have taken up arms to protect their community from organized crime groups, a local selfdefense force official said Monday.

The women signed up over the past four days with the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State, or UPOEG, Xaltianguis community selfdefense force commander Miguel Angel Jimenez told reporters.

"We have an average of nine groups" of community police, with each one made up of 12 women who will work in the daytime in the neighborhoods of Xaltianguis, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the resort city of Acapulco, Jimenez said.

The women will be trained in the use of firearms and carry the same weapons as men, Jimenez said.

The vigilante group has only about 80 firearms and the weapons are rotated among members, Jimenez said.

"I trust that the people, once they know that the women are participating," will provide more weapons, Jimenez said.

Women were among the biggest supporters when the community selfdefense forces were being formed, telling men that "either you join or I join," Jimenez said.

"Women are brave and we are capable of defending our town," Silvia Hipolito, a mother of two who joined the selfdefense group, said.

The women will learn how to use firearms and work schedules that allow them to continue taking care of their homes, Hipolito said.

UPOEG, whose members are armed and wear hoods, was created in January in Guerrero state's Costa Chica region.

The selfdefense group controls access to communities and polices them to fight crime blamed on drug traffickers and other organized crime groups.

Vigilante groups have appeared in recent months in several Mexican states, with the largest number being reported in Guerrero and the western state of Michoacan.