Romualdo Ixpango Merino, 47, leader of the United Farm and City Workers organization and promoter of self-defence groups in Morelos, disappeared on Saturday 28 July 2018 after heading to the town of Oacalco in the municipality of Yautepec. His partially burned body was found on Tuesday 31 July 2018 in a field in the town of El Hospital in the municipality of Cuautla.
On Monday 24 July 2018, Romualdo announced the formation of community police groups in Ayala. In an interview he said that self-defence groups were being formed because the community were fed up of organized crime. “This didn’t arise out of nowhere, we are fed up now and we decided to take other measures, like putting up barricades in the communities and taking up arms. Many people have already bought weapons, they are already equipped, because how are we going to deal with organized crime? Not with slingshots or with applause, we have to put ourselves on equal footing, only the people defend the people,” he stated. Days after this interview, he was murdered.
In addition, Romualdo was known for being part of the group that opposed Graco Ramírez Garrido. In 2016, he joined the Frente Amplio Morelense, a network of organizations, movements, groups and institutions that, in August of that year, rallied 100,000 people to call for Graco’s resignation.
In a press conference that took place on 2 August 2018, Alberto Capella Ibarra, State Commissioner for Public Security, described how ten people were detained in two separate operations carried out on 31 July 2019 in the municipalities of Ayala and Cuautla. These ten people are believed to be responsible for the murder of Romualdo and are linked to a criminal group headed by an individual known as “El Ray”, who is connected to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
Fearing that Romualdo’s murder will go unpunished, peasant organizations urged the federal government to take control of the murder investigation. The spokesperson for Barzón del Sur, David Padilla Marín, stated that there was a suggestion of impunity due to the haste with which those who are allegedly responsible for the murder were presented to the media by those in charge of public security in Morelos. As a result, he noted that there is a need for other agencies to intervene, otherwise this will be one more murder that will go unpunished in addition to all of the other murders that have gone unpunished during Graco Ramírez’s term, which has been characterized by illegality surrounding murders.
Source: El Milenio / Sin Línea Diario / La Jornada de Morelos