Sparks of light among the generally horrific news about Mexico are woefully rare. Toronto-based photographer Brett Gundlock has captured one such spark with El Pueblo, the remarkable story of Cherán, a small town in Michoacán, whose residents drove out a group of cartel-associated loggers and took back their town.
Up until April 15, 2011, Cherán had been exploited by loggers who were working for a local cartel and trespassing on their land to illegally log the old-growth oak forest in and around Cherán. Doña Chepa, a Cherán local, had had enough. On this April morning, she and other inhabitants barricaded the road and defended their town, resisting gunfire from both the loggers and local police, finally driving them both to relent. Since that day, Cherán has controlled their own government and their own police force. Inspired by the success of the people of Cherán, regular citizens of other local towns created autodefensas—vigilante groups formed for purposes of self-defense—which have, incredibly, succeeded in eradicating cartel activity in this region