Family is key to break Mexico’s cycle of violence, priest says

Mexican police in Ciudad Juarez Credit Frontpage  Shutterstock Mexican police in Ciudad Juarez. | Frontpage / Shutterstock.

As violence continues to plague parts of Mexico, one priest in the country stressed the importance of strong families in overcoming the drug trade and establishing peace.

"If you think about it, the family may be one of the most attacked institutions in recent years. And it's in the family where values arise, where citizens are formed," said Fr. Omar Sotelo, director of the Catholic Multimedia Center, which tracks violence in Mexico.

He called for "a process of re-civilization," adding that "the best school for re-civilizing society, without any doubt, is the family - there's no other more powerful factor, no other more dependable institution."

"The fundamental weapon for counteracting the violence we are going through is in the family," he insisted.

Sotelo spoke to ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, about the increase in violence in Mexico. According to government figures, there have been more than 23,000 murders in the country so far this year. The El Universal newspaper estimated that the first half of the year was the most violent in the history of Mexico.

The priest said that drug trafficking has so deeply infiltrated Mexican society that "we have to speak about 'narcoviolence,' 'narcopolitics,' 'narcoeconomy,' 'narcosecurity'."

"If we look at a map of the Republic, we are surrounded by cartels and they are imposing the rules for the survival of a country," he warned.

Those who enter organized crime, Sotelo said, have gradually lost a sense of respect and love for others. Many times, they are pushed into drug trafficking out of desperation, when they could not find any other work to support themselves, he said.

"Drug trafficking feeds on men and women whose course in life has been curtailed or perhaps trampled on."

He warned that "today we have complete generations of drug traffickers, from small children to adults…We have one or two generations of drug traffickers in Mexico and so it's going to be extremely hard to eradicate it."

Fighting the drug trade, he said, "is like kicking a hornet's nest," and it's easy to grow discouraged after years of effort with little success.

Still, the priest maintained, "the vast majority in Mexico can still reverse this deplorable evil."

Solving the problem will take more than words, and will take cooperation from all sectors of society, he said. "It's not just the problem of a president, of a government, of a political party, of an NGO. It's everyone's problem."

But while the challenge may seem daunting, failure to act would be come at a high price.

"If we remain silent, things will continue like this," he said. "If we don't do something, those who are children right now…in 5,6,8,10 years may be the next drug traffickers, the actors of organized crime in our country."

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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