Waving colorful balloons and holding toys, hundreds of children marched through the streets of a remote town in the violent Mexican state of Guerrero, commemorating “Children’s Day”, and to protest the growing violence that has ravaged the region.
The minors marched through the streets of Alcozacán, a small hamlet in the Chilapa de Álvarez municipality, waving banners that read “Stop the violence” and “We want peace”, while chanting slogans, on Friday afternoon.
It had originally been announced that, as part of the demonstration, children they would receive wooden replicas of the real weapons their community uses to defend themselves against crime attacks organized, but surprisingly toys were handed out instead, according to a witness.
“Our weapons are dignity, rebellion and resistance,” a young woman who participated in the march said in a short speech.
Guerrero is one of the poorest states in Mexico, where violence has grown dramatically hand in hand with the expansion of drug cartels to other profitable criminal businesses such as extortion, fuel theft and kidnapping.
Chilapa It was put on the map in the last decade after its inhabitants decided to equip themselves to face criminal groups, who use the remote corners of their geography to harvest poppies, sowing chaos and terror among the population.
With the arrival of the pandemic, the situation became even more complicated in the place, due to a lesser presence of the authorities, according to residents and local defense groups who say that minors have borne the worst, to the extent that many they have had to leave the region.
“In the Sierra de Guerrero, children have been condemned to survive in the garden of thorns of discrimination and abandonment,” Abel Barrera, director of the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Center, said at a press conference.
In the first quarter of the year, Guerrero reported 272 violent deaths, which represents a rate of more than seven intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the country, according to official data.