Archbishop says peace in southern Mexico “within reach”

.- Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca in southern Mexico has encouraged the main parties involved in recently begun peace talks to focus their attention on just and achievable solutions, and he called on the populace to avoid creating further division and confrontations, now that peace is “within reach.”

Federal negotiators are currently presenting proposals to end the violent conflict between local leaders and a group of striking teachers who have been joined by activist organizations in the southern state of Oaxaca.

In his message, Archbishop Botello recalled that social conflicts are a “symptom of serious, unattended illnesses that require emergency action.”  He said that the suffering of Oaxaca in recent weeks should help citizens and leaders to “understand the root causes which should be decisively and responsibly addressed.”

He called on the populace to contribute to finding “just and achievable solutions” to the problems and warned that continued violence would only lead to flawed agreements.  The main parties in the conflict, he noted, should take concrete steps toward a resolution to give hope and confidence to the region.  He also said the Mexican federal government should not shrink from its role in resolving the crisis.

“The most important reform is the reform of our attitudes,” the archbishop emphasized.  “Let us not allow division and confrontations between us; we are members of the same society, and the sickness or injury of one member jeopardizes the whole body.  Let us cease from seeing each other as enemies,” he added.

Archbishop Botello reminded the faithful to “redouble” their prayers both in the family and as a community, that “the Lord will enlighten and strengthen the will of all parties involved in the negotiations to courageously choose what would most benefit Oaxaca.”

The protests began in May with a strike by teachers, who demanded a salary increase, and eventually led to a political conflict over calls for the governor of Oaxaca to resign.

Since then some 40,000 teachers have occupied the central square in Oaxaca.  When the governor sent police to break up the protest, thousands of leftists, anarchists, and college students joined in the protest and burning buses and spray-painting graffiti on government buildings.  Two people have died in the conflict and dozens have been wounded.

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