Thousands March for Peace in Tamaulipas Mexico as Drug War Escalates


A “March for Peace” was held in Tamaulipas, Mexico this weekend, organized by citizens who are tired of living in fear of the local drug cartels. Mexican security forces seem unwilling or unable to control escalating violence between drug cartel members so thousands of citizens are now taking to the streets to demand something be done to ensure their safety.

Photo: @mr_freund

The “Marcha por la Paz” held on May 11th was the second march for peace to take place in Tamaulipas (the first was mid April). Violence between organized crime groups escalated in days and weeks leading up to this past weekend. Local residents are now desperate to regain safety and security in their cities. The events leading up to this weekend’s march are very complicated and it’s important to understand the context behind the protest and the risk these people take in marching. There are wars raging in the streets of Mexico and innocent citizens are caught in the crossfire every day.

The current situation in Tamaulipas started around 2009 in the border towns of Nuevo Laredo and Rio Bravo and has spread through Matamoros, Reynoso and now further south to Tampico where open street battles between cartel members are taking place on an hourly basis. Many people have been killed by stray bullets, kidnapped, and local businesses being extorted for money is a common occurrence.

A resident of Reynosa told Revolution News that previous to 2009 Tamaulipas was a peaceful place where citizens would regularly be seen celebrating in the streets at night. Now local businesses that stay open until 7:30 – 8pm are considered very brave. School teachers follow strict protocols if there are shootings near campus and the children are already very familiar with the fear of dying by a stray bullet. We are told it is common to see members of organized crime walking around local malls fully armed with automatic weapons, bullet proof vests and radios, as if they are normal citizens. This what everyday life is like in the state of Tamaulipas. When they protest they literally march through a war zone of organized criminals.

Photo: @mr_freund

Photo: @mr_freund

Perhaps inspired in part by the autodefensas in Michoacan, locals of Tamaulipas are slowly losing their fear of the cartels. This past weekend’s 2nd March for Peace brought thousands of local residents into the streets wearing the color white for peace and demanding that their government finally do something about the volatile situation.

Citizens in Tamaulipas have developed a coded warning system to spread news via facebook and twitter that is very effective in disseminating information. No doubt these codes help save lives by giving advanced notice of criminal activity by location. Hashtags are combined with certain codes and followed by the city affected. For example #SDRTampico means there is a risky situation in the city of Tampico.

SDR = Situación de Riesgo (situation of risk)
PSDR = Posible Situación de Riesgo (Possible situation of risk)
FFAAS = Fuerzas Armadas (armed forces)
GA = Gente Armada (armed people)
CO = Crimen Organizado (organized crime)
Hs = Guardias o Halcones (or Ghs) (guards or hawks)
PVD = Punto de Venta de Droga (point of sale for drugs)
Polimilitar = public security carried out by military
PET = Policía Estatal (state police)
SSPM = Policía Municipal (municipal police)

The twitter timeline of Valor por Tamaulipas usually reads like a city under siege, alerting citizens of explosions, kidnappings and reports of gunfire. Below are 4 alerts tweeted within 30 minutes from a very active account of 29.1K alerts and 76.6K followers.

“Indications that armed people with gasoline torched cars in the lot in front of Chacas”

“4:05pm in Loma Blanca, criminals exchanging guns in about 10 trucks”

“4:20pm while crossing the vehicles fired toward several houses in colonia pescadores”

“4:35pm by Loma there were detonations. There is smoke near the former Infonavit – risky situation”

The situation in Tamaulipas is extremely dangerous. When thousands of people set out to march for peace in their streets in this type of environment it is beyond brave.

Reports now confirm that one of the founders of the Zetas, Galindo Mellado also known as “Z9”, was killed this past week in a shootout. Also the Mexican Army has reportedly detained 10 members of the state police for setting up the Tamaulipas Chief of Intelligence, Salvador de Haro Munoz to be murdered by Zetas gunman.

The Mexican drug cartel war is an extremely complicated situation. Tamaulipas is generally dominated by 2 cartels, Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel (Cartel de Golfo or CDG). We have found Borderland Beat to be very informative if you would like to read more about the cartels of Mexico but be warned, many of the images and videos in this blog are extremely violent and graphic.

Map of Mexican Cartels

Map of Mexican Cartels

La Journada
Borderland Beat
Valor por Tamaulipas Facebook
Valor por Tamaulipas Twitter
Esperanza por Tamaulipas is a Facebook page dedicated to locating missing and kidnapped residents of Tamaulipas.

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.