Bishops in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero have suffered threats from organised criminal groups as they serve a region rife with drug cartel activities and parishes located in impoverished indigenous communities where people eke out existences by cultivating opium poppies.
Bishop Maximino Miranda Martinez of Ciudad Altamirano was robbed of his vehicle after encountering a roadblock manned by an armed group in the violent Tierra Caliente region. Bishop Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga of Tlapa, meanwhile, was asked to pay extortion, but escaped making payment as those making the demands were run off by rivals.
Attempts to reach spokesmen in both dioceses were unsuccessful.
Three priests have also received death threats, said Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, who provided details on the incidents at a 27th May news conference in Chilpancingo, 175 miles south of Mexico City.
He said bishops and priests had intervened in conflicts among the increasing number of small criminal groups clashing over the cultivation and smuggling of heroin from Guerrero to the United States. Bishop Rangel himself has spoken of establishing communications with cartel bosses in an attempt to pacify one of Mexico’s most violent states.
“It’s not my place to say it, but I asked for assistance from the state and they sent state police, but (those police) were disarmed (by criminals) and the police left,” he said of the attempt to quell a cartel conflict.
Picture: A group of armed civilians is seen in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero on 28th May. Bishops in Guerrero have suffered threats from organised criminal groups as they serve a region rife with drug cartel activities and parishes located in impoverished indigenous communities where people eke out existences by cultivating opium poppies. (CNS photo/Jose Luis de la Cruz, EPA).