The ceremony in the town of Tepalcatepec, where the movement began in February 2013, will involve the registration of thousands of guns by the federal government and an agreement that the so-called "self-defense" groups will either join a new official rural police force or return to their normal lives and acts as voluntary reserves when called on.
With Saturday's ceremony, a federal commissioner now in charge of the violence-plagued state hopes to end the "wild west" chapter of the movement, in which civilians built roadblocks and battled cartel members for towns in the rich farming area called the "Tierra Caliente," or "Hot Land."
The new rural forces are designed to be a way out of an embarrassing situation, in which elected leaders and law enforcement agencies lost control of the entire state to the pseudo-religious Knights Templar drug cartel. Efforts to retake control with federal police and military failed. Eventually government forces had to rely on the vigilantes because of their knowledge of where to find the cartel gunmen.Lots of them are saying "Screw that" to the registration idea; past history tells them that would be a bad idea. And they don't trust the government to keep after the bad guys, either.
"This (demobilization) agreement is just something to please the government," said Rene Sanchez, 22, a vigilante from the self-defense stronghold of Buenavista. "With them or without them, we are going to keep at it."