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The Peña Nieto government seems to be facing its worst crisis yet, one likely to persist as police clash with a small minority of protestors who attack property, set fires, and throw Molotov cocktails. The breadth of the public outrage, however, is uncertain, and the movement has no clearly defined, practical demands.
In order to maximize the benefits and avoid the pitfalls associated with bringing vigilantes into the fold, the Mexican government should consider a few lessons from around the world.
Across Mexico, the lawlessness and carnage of the drug wars have given rise to scores of local self-defense forces aiming to defend their communities. The federal government may be tempted to disband and disarm these armed vigilantes, but until it can shape up its security sector, the local groups offer an imperfect but acceptable alternative.