The Diocese of San Cristóbal denounces an increase of violence in Chiapas

The Cathedral of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

“Every day in our country we experience insecurity and violence in our streets, schools, businesses and unfortunately also in our churches, places that bring us together as a community to meet with our sisters and brothers and with God,” the religious leaders assured.

By: Isaín Mandujano

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Chiapas (proceso.com.mx)

The Diocese of San Cristóbal de La Casas denounced the increase in violence in Chiapas, as well as the persecution of its pastoral agents who accompany the peoples and communities, as for example, the most recent arrest warrant issued against the parish priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez.

In a statement signed today by Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Luis Manuel López Alfaro Auxiliary Bishop, Sister María Reyes Arias Sarao, Secretary-Chancellor and the priest José Luis Bezares Selvas, Vicar of Justice and Peace, they detail the situation of violence that reigns in many municipalities inside of the jurisdiction of this diocese.

“Every day in our country we experience insecurity and violence in our streets, schools, businesses and unfortunately also ion our churches, places that bring us together as a community to meet with our sisters and brothers and with God. The murder of three people: one a tourist guide and two Jesuit priests, in the State of Chihuahua, inside a Catholic church, makes us see the magnitude of the problem that increases every day,” the religious leaders say in the document.

“Unfortunately, this same situation of violence and insecurity has also increased in our beloved state of Chiapas in recent years,” they add.

They recalled the murders of 2021: On July 5, 2021, the murder of Simón Pedro, former president of Las Abejas of Acteal, of the Indigenous Prosecutor Gregorio Pérez, very close to his place of work; of the journalist Fredy López Arévalo; and in 2022: of Señora Paula Ruíz and last month of the municipal president of Teopisca, among many others.

Simón Pedro Pérez López, former President of Las Abejas.

“Every day organized crime occupies more space in Chiapas territory, painfully it’s adding to the national situation, and there is a struggle between [organized crime] groups in competition at the state and local level.

Within this area we find the trafficking of persons for pornography, the sale of organs and the sexual and labor exploitation of migrants and nationals stand out… Said groups and forces, in many municipalities, manage to control the municipal authorities. All this caused insecurity, violence, extortions and forced displacement of people and families,” the document issued this Sunday says.

They point out that in recent weeks our country has been involved in a series of very worrisome violent events. These events have revealed how drug trafficking is linked to the police, judicial and political structures.

Most of the zones in the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, present conflict situations and detail that, for example, in the Tsotsil Zone there is violence in the communities within the municipalities of Chenalhó, Aldama, Simojovel, Chalchihuitán, Pantelhó, Chamula, Amatán, El Bosque and Huitiupán.

There are violent situations in the following zones and municipalities: the municipalities of Tila, Salto de Agua, and Palenque in the Chol Zone; the municipalities of Chilón and Sitalá in the Chab Zone; the municipalities of Oxchuc, Cancuc and Ocosingo in the Tseltal Zone; the municipalities of Chicomuselo, Comalapa and Las Margaritas in the Southeast Zone, where there are persecutions over the struggle against mining, which damages the ecosystem, and human trafficking.

In the Southern Zone, which includes the municipalities of Venustiano Carranza, Teopisca, Las Rosas and Socoltenango, – and the Central Zone in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, where many acts of violence have occurred in recent years.

In June 2022, armed and masked men attacked the Northern Market in San Cristóbal de Las Casas causing terror in the population.

The religious leaders point out that in doing the work of accompanying the suffering of the peoples and seeking true life for them, it affects the interests of individuals and groups who only seek the maximum profit at any cost, regardless of the suffering of the poorest.

“The implementation of the strategies of the economic-political system that governs us has been very clear, when a community organizes to defend its land and territory, to care for its community government through uses and customs, when the injustices they commit are denounced, sometimes, the same authorities of the communities, municipalities, etcetera, it would seem to be a motive for them to react with persecution, intimidation, threats and incarceration,” the letter says.

And it adds that in Chiapas many have been displaced from their homes due to the violence that reigns around them and for taking care of their life and the life of their loved ones, losing all the patrimony that they had achieved with much sweat and tears.

“Our Diocesan Church has also been a mediator in several of the conflicts that have been unleashed in our state, always contributing to the search for dialogue and reconciliation, through peaceful means. This work, arduous and not easy, often brings the ingratitude of some of the actors involved when they only pursue their selfish ambitions and not the search for the common good,” the document indicates.

But all this has brought as consequences threats and intimidations against Pastoral Agents of the Diocese, in several of the aforementioned zones with situations of violence.

Father Marcelo (in the long white robe) leads a peace march in San Cristóbal after violence in the Northern Market.

“Among the ones that stand out the most are, for several years, those that have been made against our pastoral agent and priest, Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, and that have increased in recent days, in addition to the fact that there is a request for an arrest warrant against him,” the Diocese denounced.

They also said that about Pastoral Agents, as is the case of brother Manuel Sántiz Cruz, an indigenous Tseltal and defender of human rights and territory, of the San Juan Cancuc parish, and of the other four deprived of their freedom together with him, with whom due process has not been carried out, thus violating their rights.

And in the arrest of the councilor president of Pantelhó, Pedro Cortés López and Diego Mendoza Cruz, according to the word of those who advocate for them, the eyewitnesses, they expressed that the arrest warrant was not presented to them and it was also done with a luxury of violence, and therefore their rights were also violated.

“But there are other threats and intimidations against sister and brother Pastoral Agents that have not had as much coverage in the media for different reasons. The situations mentioned have been made known in various ways to the authorities of the three levels of government, which are overwhelmed, permissive and/or colluded by the control system that organized crime exercises in national territory,” says the letter sent this Sunday.

“In the face of any aggression that they may receive, we remind those who govern that the Mexican State must guaranty the physical integrity of these sisters and brothers,” they point out.

As the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez and his collaborators demanded: “that the persecution, repression and intimidation cease against the pastoral agents who struggle for the construction of a different and better world.”

==Ω==

Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso.com.mx, Sunday, July 3, 2022, https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/estados/2022/7/3/diocesis-de-san-cristobal-denuncia-incremento-de-la-violencia-en-chiapas-288887.html and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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