Bishop decries ‘scourge of violence’ by organized crime on Mexico’s southern border

Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez presides over the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the Mexico-Guatemala border region. | Credit: Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, México

Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the Mexican state of Chiapas decried the “scourge of violence” by organized crime on Mexico’s southern border that intimidates residents and even forces them to join their ranks.

In a letter posted on Facebook Dec. 21, Aguilar warned that “organized crime keeps people besieged, confined, intimidated, and threatened, harming them more every day.”

The bishop had previously warned in September that the state of Chiapas was “torn by violence” due to the confrontation between criminal gangs.

In his new letter, the Mexican prelate pointed out that for more than two years the southern Mexico region on the border with Guatemala has been living under “threats, harassment, demands for protection money, intimidation, disappearances, kidnappings, murders, seizure of material goods, checkpoints, illegal tolls, looting, and illegal mining.”

In addition, Aguilar charged that “armed people” aboard vehicles enter “various communities, pulling people out of their homes, shooting in front of the residents “to terrorize them and make them do what they ask of them.” 

“We see, hear, feel, and accompany the pain, suffering, and desperate cry for peace of women, men, girls, boys, young people, and the elderly who are suffering from this situation without their demands for security, justice, and peace being met,” the bishop said.

“There are hundreds of families who have had to leave their homes due to threats and because in their place of origin it is no longer possible to have a decent life,” he lamented, noting that in the region “there is constant migration that is increasing every day.”

After charging that “some people belonging to the state security and justice institutions are colluding with the crime gangs,” the bishop lamented that many people who have reported the actions of organized crime “have been harassed and have had to leave their homes and their belongings that have cost them so much.”

“The inhabitants of the region say that they can’t understand how with the presence of the army, national guard, and state police in the region there is no security or reduction in acts of violence,” he added.

Aguilar called on the authorities to work on the “restoration of social order without putting civil society at risk” as well as the “immediate disarmament of criminal gangs.”

He also asked that the territory controlled by criminals be recovered so that “the families of the region can be on their own land, work it normally, and live with security, peace, and tranquility.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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