MILITARIZED SCHOOLS: A Response to Drug Cartels’ Overbearing Hand into the System

Hopefully the cartels don’t own those soldiers standing guard over the schools.

By Manuel Rueda

Violent crime is a familiar problem at CBTI 14, a public high school in Acapulco’s western suburbs.

Armed youths occasionally rob students of their cellphones as they climb the steep hill to school, and last year a teacher was forced out of his car at gunpoint in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

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But things took a turn for the worse on Feb. 26, when two armed men in a car without a license plate approached the school gate and asked for the principal. Earlier that day the school had received an extortion call from someone claiming to be a member of a local cartel.

“They said that if we didn’t give them money they would come for us,” a school administrator told me in a hushed voice. “So we decided to cancel classes as a security measure…and to pressure the government to give us security.”

Classes resumed the following week, but only after the army deployed three heavily armed soldiers to guard the schoolhouse.

“It makes us feel safer—at least while we’re at work,” said the administrator, who spoke to me on the condition on anonymity.

Schools are regularly targeted by criminal groups in Acapulco, a city where street crime and cartel violence have devastated the once vibrant tourism industry.

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