NewsNational News


Mexican villages arm children in desperate bid for attention

APTOPIX Mexico Armed Children
Posted at 10:07 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 13:07:51-04

AYAHUALTEMPA, Mexico — Caring for goats or cows is among the typical chores for children in the mountains of Mexico's Guerrero state.

But when the press comes to the Indigenous village of Ayahualtempa, there is another task for the youngsters — parading with firearms.

Mexico Armed Children
A child practices with a fake, wooden rifle during a display for the media in an attempt to attract the federal government's attention to the dangers his town faces from organized crime in Ayahualtempa, Guerrero state, Mexico, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Residents are caught between two gangs: Los Ardillos and Los Rojos, as well as vigilante groups they distrust just as much. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

They pull on their community police shirts, cover their faces with handkerchiefs, grab their guns and line up in formation on the town’s basketball court.

When their instructor gives the order they march for the cameras.

The images are jarring, but the spectacle is a desperate attempt by some remote communities to attract the federal government’s attention.

Their message is simple: “Without government protection we have to defend ourselves, even if that means arming our children.”

Mexico Armed Children
A man stands on textbooks strewn about the floor of a school that has an exterior still pocked with bullet holes in the ghost village of Paraiso de Tepila, Guerrero state, Mexico, Friday, April 30, 2021. More than two years ago all 35 families that lived in Paraiso de Tepila fled after it was overrun by criminals. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)