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Sanmiguelenses Unidos Provides Information, Tips for a Safer San Miguel

President of Sanmiguelenses Unidos

25% of its active membership is Mexican

By Jesús Aguado

An organization made up of people from Canada, the United States, and other countries, Sanmiguelenses Unidos’s mission is to promote security and a better quality of life in San Miguel.

Organization president Nathaniel Fultz recently granted Atención an interview to explain what his group does to provide the public with information on safety in San Miguel, ranging from tips to guidance with filling out a criminal complaint to taxi fare information.

Jesús Aguado: Is Sanmiguelenses Unidos a civil association or just a collective?

Nathaniel Fultz: We successfully completed the process to become an AC [asociación civil]. We are recognized by the Mexican government as an AC. We publish texts on how prevent crime. We survive on member donations.

JA: How many members does the organization have?

NF: It varies. We have 150 people who have joined in the past, but it fluctuates because people come and go. We officially have 50–60 members.

We don´t worry about the number of members. We would like to have more people, but our purpose is to inform people so they can be more proactive on how to prevent crime from happening to them and their neighbors.

JA: Do you keep track of crime?

NF: Every meeting we have reports on what’s been happening in the community. But it is up to the members to report. They have to make their complaint before the Ministerio Público (District Attorney). We frequently post on our Yahoo group. David Bossman, former president of SMU is good with keeping people in touch through social networks.

JA: Do you conduct studies measuring how people feel about safety in San Miguel?

NF: It depends on the people and where they live. Some neighborhoods are more tranquil than others.

JA: Personally, how do you feel in terms of safety in San Miguel?

NF: I feel very safe in San Miguel. I know other people live in less dangerous places, but they pay for it. In [the] El Encanto [gated community], they have guards checking the trunks when cars come in or out. Every colonia is different.

JA: Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution states that non-Mexicans are forbidden from meddling in the political affairs of the country. How do you feel about that, since safety is political?

It is a topic for all people to be concerned about and interested in. All people should be aware of their rights. For example, if you get stopped by the police, do you have to get out of your vehicle? If the police come to your home, do you have to let them in? You do not have to get out of your car, and you do not have to let them in into your home; that is your right.

Crime is not a political thing. Crime and prevention of crime are not political.

JA: What work do you do to prevent crime?

NF: We work on having more mesas directivas (neighbor association boards of directors) in neighborhoods. We have all the information on what a mesa directiva needs to do.

Once, a man collapsed on the street, and he did not speak Spanish. The Red Cross did not know what to do with this man. We decided to make a form people could keep in their home or give to a neighbor in order to have all the necessary information on hand in an emergency, so they would know who to contact.

We also offer emergency numbers and information on where to go to make a criminal complaint. The number-one thing people should do is advocate for better lighting on the streets. A thief does not want to be seen stealing. We provide people with the phone numbers for reporting failing lamps.

We also caution people about taxi fares—the approximate rates for taxis. We had a case where a woman was charged 700 pesos.

We also inform the public about the quality of water, which affects buildings in town and everywhere. We need to know.

JA: How is your connection with the local government?

NF: Our relationship has been fine. We were concerned [recently] that they did not recognize problems going on in a particular shopping center. There was a problem where a lady needed medical attention. Now there is patrolling there. But the government wanted to deny that it ever happened since no complaint was made.

For officials to say that something did not happen, when it did and everybody knows it, takes away the value of the leadership.

JA: Have you met with the Secretary of Security?

NF: I have not been asked for a meeting. No one from the city has contacted me.

It would be better if we had regular contact with the city, and we look forward to that. With previous administrations, we have had misleading statements from the city. You always have to be worried about that. But being open to having contact with more people and more government people in order to combine resources is a great thing.

 

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