Bishop Jose Luis Azcona of Marajo, Brazil, has received death threats for denouncing the sexual exploitation of human trafficking rings in which “politicians, businessmen and police officers” are implicated.
Born in Pamplona, Spain, and a member of the Augustinians, Bishop Azcona met with a congressional committee on the exploitation of minors in the Brazilian state of Para, where he reiterated his protests. “They snatch girls from school and take them away to sexually exploit them, especially in French Guyana and in Spain,” he stated.
In a telephone interview with Europa Press, the bishop said he is taking the threats “with calm.”
“Thanks be to God I don’t feel any anxiety or anguish,” he said.
He acknowledged that he has refused the security detail offered to him by the Government not because he doesn’t trust them, but because there are two other bishops—one from Austria and the other from Italy—and 200 priests who have also received death threats.
Bishop Azcona recalled his 24 years of missionary work in Marajo and said that despite the death threats, he does not want to leave Brazil, and in fact hopes to end his days there.
However, he accuses politicians and police officials of not “taking the necessary measures.”
“A police officer in Marajo was found to be engaged in human trafficking, sending 178 women, many of them minors, to become prostitutes in French Guyana,” he noted.
The only organization that has spoken out about the death threats is the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, which has expressed its support for those that have been targeted. “Any aggression against them is against all of us, their brothers in the episcopal ministry, and against the people they serve with unmeasured zeal and courage,” the bishops said.
“In Christ we are one with them and with the persons they defend: the indigenous peoples, women, children and adolescents used in human trafficking and are sold into sexual exploitation and killed by drugs. We also support their commitment to the defense of the environment that is devastated by profiteering with harmful consequences for human life,” the bishops stated.