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Mexicans are giving their kids militia training to fight cartels

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:46s - Published
Mexicans are giving their kids militia training to fight cartels

Mexicans are giving their kids militia training to fight cartels

A community in Mexico has started offering military-style weapons training to children in an effort to combat gang violence.

Gloria Tso reports.

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A small community in southern Mexico has started offering military-style weapons training to children.

Some of them are as young as six or seven years old.

Cartel violence plagues Guerrero state and residents say they have little choice.

They say some schools in the area are controlled by the cartels.

Bernardino Sanchez founded a "community militia" that defends the town.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FOUNDER OF SELF DEFENCE ''COMMUNITY POLICE'' FROM GUERRERO STATE MOUNTAIN REGION, BERNARDINO SANCHEZ, SAYING: ''There are children who don't go to school anymore.

Instead of wasting time forming gangs in the street, we prepare them to keep them busy so that they don't join the criminals.

That's part of their education.'' Only 6,500 people live in Rincon de Chatula.

But it's seen an outsized amount of violence in recent years.

Ten people from the area were ambushed and killed just last month by suspected members of the Los Ardillos cartel.

Many more have been tortured or even beheaded.

Sanchez says the gangs want to extort farmers and force them to grow opium.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FOUNDER OF SELF DEFENSE ''COMMUNITY POLICE'' FROM GUERRERO STATE MOUNTAIN REGION, BERNARDINO SANCHEZ, SAYING: ''The Los Ardillos trick the indigenous people by going into their communities and offer to purchase poppy paste at a high cost but once they have bought two or three times from them, they lower the price.

If they don't want to sell to them anymore, they take it by force and kill them.'' The move to train children in firearms shocked Mexico and made global headlines.

But privately - elders in the community admit - its mainly an attempt to grab the attention of officials in faraway Mexico City.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has denounced using children to shine a light on the problem.

Mexico saw a record number of murders last year, over 34,000.

Meanwhile many residents of the town live in fear.

Farmers tend their cornfields with shotguns on their backs and militiamen patrol around the clock.





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