August 22, 2014
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Human rights activists and vigilante leaders who rose up to fight a drug cartel in western Mexico are urging Mexicans to form "self-defense" groups to demand public security and justice.
In a meeting Wednesday, they called on the people of Mexico to declare themselves members of "self-defense" groups but without arming themselves.
Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, one of the vigilante movement founders in Michoacan state, says there needs to be "consciousness-raising."
Thousands of farmers and ranchers in Michoacan formed self-defense groups in February 2013 to fight the Knights Templar drug cartel, which was extorting them and taking their land and cattle by force.
The armed groups forced authorities to crack down on the cartel. Most of its leaders have been arrested or killed in the last year.
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