In Mexico, Vigilantism Rises on Surge of Crime, Public Disgust
As faith in the police declines, townspeople increasingly mete out their own justice. Maria del Refugio Perez is a 60-year-old street vendor who says she abhors violence. But this month, she joined a raging mob that corralled, pummeled and hog-tied a suspected thief and almost burned her alive. Drawn by a butcher’s shouts that she had caught the woman grabbing money from a cash drawer at her shop, Perez and other neighbors quickly seized her. Once the church bells in this Mexico City suburb started ringing, signaling a town emergency, the mob grew in size — and anger. “These things happen because the authorities don’t do anything,” Perez said, recalling days later how the woman, Juana Moncayo, was tied to a flagpole in the town plaza for several hours as the crowd of 200 insulted and beat her. “Some were yelling, ‘Burn her! Burn her!’ ” when the police finally came to take her away, Perez said.