White Guards (Guardias Blancas) (Mexico)

Country: Mexico
Details of Formation: The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium dates the group back to 1961, but there is only limited evidence for this. A Human Rights watch report tells of abuses as early as 1990 by gunmen accompanied by landowners and local authorities. Zapatist rebels (EZLN) staged an uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in 1994 demanding rights for indigenous peoples. In response local landowners armed paramilitary groups which reportedly received support and training from security forces in Chiapas. According to the Human Rights Watch the groups mapaches (armed gangs recruited by landowners as far back as 1914) were direct ancestors of the White Guards.
Details of Termination: The White Guards were linked to protecting the PRI’s rule. The PRI lost the 2000 elections and the new government decided to go after paramilitary groups associated with the PRI. There is no evidence for the White Guards after 2000.
Purpose: The White Guards’ purpose was to protect private property and maintain public order. They also protected the PRI party. The government tolerated the group because it served their purpose.
Organisation: As of 1995, the group was led by a retired sublieutenant. The White Guards enjoy impunity and were described as complicit with Chiapas authorities. They are organized by landowners.
Weapons and Training: White Guards were trained by Chiapas law enforcements officials. There were rumors of training provided by army and police. The White Guards were armed with Uzi submachine-guns and AK-47 assault rifles.
Size: A news source from 1995 mentions 400 White Guards members.
Reason for Membership: Members of the White Guards were paid, as they were described as “hired gunmen”. They received their payment from landowners and caciques (local chiefs and rulers).
Treatment of Civilians: White Guards killed many Indian and peasant leaders. In December 1997, they killed 45 unarmed indigenous peasants in Acteal. In January 1999, they kidnapped, tortured and killed four members of an indigenous family. Authorities acquiesced the violent actions and failed to prosecute perpetrators.
Other Information: --
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD