By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas – Thousands of Catholics of the Diocese of San Cristóbal participated in what was called a Pilgrimage for Peace and Justice in at least 10 cities to protest the violence that reigns in various regions of the state.
Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), a people of faith group affiliated with the Diocese of San Cristóbal, organized and called for the marches before it was known that on June 21 the State’s Attorney General (FGE) asked a judge to issue an arrest warrant for the Tsotsil priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez for the case of twenty Pantelhó residents retained and disappeared since July 26, 2021.
In all the different demonstrations the Catholics expressed their support for and solidarity with the indigenous priest, who is a native of San Andrés Larráinzar Municipality.
According to sources in the Diocese, pilgrimages were carried out in San Cristóbal, Comitán, Palenque, Ocosingo, Salto de Agua, Simojovel, Frontera Comalapa, Las Rosas, Bachajón anf Tenejapa, among other places, and brought together more than 20,000 people.
In San Cristóbal, the long walk of men, women and children divided into two groups: one, with more than 500 people, departed from the church of María Auxiliadora, located in the south, and the other, with more than 400 Catholics, left from the parish of San Juan Diego, located in the city’s north.
With flowers, religious images, white flags, chants and the majority dressed in white, both contingents ended in Cathedral Plaza.
With a white flag with the word “peace,” Marcelo Pérez marched at the front of the group that began its trajectory at María Auxiliadora, in which various priests and nuns also participated, including some from the Archdiocese of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Upon reaching Cathedral Plaza, the Pueblo Creyente group stated: “Victims are criminalized by accusing them of being the cause of the crimes they denounce and they are unjustly imprisoned. And with greater motive if they are defenders of human rights or a prophetic voice of the native and campesino peoples.”
Interviewed at the conclusion of the pilgrimage, Marcelo Pérez disclaimed all responsibility in the case of the Pantelhó residents allegedly retained and disappeared by members of the El Machete Self-Defense Forces of the People on July 26, 2021. 
“They blame me for the disappearance, but it’s totally false because I wasn’t in Pantelhó on July 26, but rather in Simojovel. The prosecutor confirmed it because he saw it on my cell phone. And because of the Gospel, I would never give an order to attempt against life because I have a divine mandate to defend life at all costs,” he said.
He said: “I have always asked where the 19 or 21 missing persons are and they don’t give me an answer. It’s totally false that I have participated or given any order to attempt against the lives of those people; to the contrary, we want peace.”
He assured that he will not request a court order to protect him (an amparo) “because I am very calm and my heart is at peace in the Gospel.” Likewise, he invited “all peoples to return to the deep root of the Gospel. Many organizations were born from the Gospel, but now they have forgotten and that’s why they have been divided and there is a lot of violence because of that. He invited us to return to the deep roots of the Gospel, independently of religion.”
 According to a statement from the Diocese of San Cristóbal, the Chiapas State’s Attorney General asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for Father Marcelo, who was a mediator in the Pantelhó conflict. As of this posting, the court has not yet issued one.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/07/06/estados/030n2est and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee