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  • Self-defense groups block access points to Uruapan, July 4,  2014. (Foto: Valor por Michoacan)

    Self-defense groups block access points to Uruapan, July 4, 2014. (Foto: Valor por Michoacan)

Published 28 November 2014

Protesters blocked major access points to Uruapan, Michoacan on Thursday to demand the return of family members they believe to have been forcibly disappeared.

Close to a dozen men were apparently disappeared last Sunday in the village of Agua Verde, near the indigenous community of Zirahuen, Michoacan, and their relatives want to know where they are.

The disappeared men are said to have been members of auto-defense groups and some press reports indicate that they had joined the Rural Police Force, although their status is not clear.

The protests in Michoacan’s second largest city began at noon and lasted all afternoon. Four out of five major highways were blocked, including those leading to Patzcuaro, Apatzingan, Paracho and the Siglo XXI toll road that runs from Morelia to Lazaro Cardenas. 

Family members fear that their missing relatives will turn up dead or decapitated as was the case with Gerardo Serafin El G1 and his nephew Nicolás Serafín, two former members of self-defense groups who were participating in the Rural Police Force at the time they were killed.

The State Attorney General said on his Twitter account that he has spoken to the family members and that the case of the disappeared people is being investigated. He denies that any of the people involved were members of the Rural Police Force.

Approximately 350 members of the self-defense groups are now held prisoners in the state of Michoacan, including Jose Manuel Mireles, who may soon be released under highly restrictive probation conditions, according to his former lawyers.

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