11/15/12 – On the morning of November 14, banners, or “narcomantas,” signed by The Knights Templar criminal organization were found throughout the states of Guerrero, Michoacan and Guanajuato, reported Reforma. These “narcomantas”, hung on footbridges in major cities, displayed messages from the criminal organization to the outgoing president, Felipe Calderón. Typically narcomantas are displayed alongside the dead bodies of victims of cartel violence, often carrying a threat or warning directed towards the government or an opposing cartel. The recently discovered banners, however, contain a surprisingly cordial farewell to the soon to be ex-President, a native of Michoacan. The banners read the following (partial translation from InSight Crime):
“Message to Mr President Felipe Calderon … we have never agreed with the way in which you treated us. Your intentions may have been good, but not your actions.
However, with all the human pain that you caused us … we want to say that we learned a lot and recognize that we, as a rebel body, have also caused the Federal Police (PFP) injuries, well deserved ones. We … wanted respect, but you would turn to look at us. It would have been nice for Michoacan if you with … the power that you had, had treated your people with love and true justice.
We apologize for everything, and as we are not going to see you governing in December, we wish for you, your family and your cabinet, in the words of Vicente Fernandez [an iconic Mexican singer], “that everything goes well.” Sincerely, the Knights Templar.”
The motives behind the messages remain unclear. The Knights Templar, much like their parent organization La Familia Michoacan, often participate in public relations campaigns to garner support from the local population. Experts have speculated the newest banners are but the most recent attempt by the Knights Templar to position themselves as vigilantes and defenders of the common people. Felipe Calderón will officially end his six-year term as President on December 1st, having presided over the most violent years of the Mexican drug war. The Calderón Administration has been noted for its hard line policies towards the cartels, often utilizing military forces to combat drug trafficking organizations.
“Dan Templarios ‘despedida’ a Calderón a través de narcomantas.” El Diario. November 14, 2012.
Fox, Edward. “Mexico’s Knights Templar Gang Bids Farewell to President Calderon.” In Sight Crime. November 15, 2012.
Friedman, George. “Mexico Plagued by Narcomantas and Body Dumps.” The Cutting Edge. May 24, 2012.