Bishops negotiate with drug traffickers to stop violence; López Obrador sees it “very well”

The bishop of the diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, José de Jesús González Hernández, participated in the dialogues, who told local media that they sought rapprochement to try to achieve peace in Guerrero.

When asked about the initiative, the president, whose policy of “hugs, not bullets” with drug trafficking has been a failure, stated that he saw the dialogues as “very good”, but made it clear that these conversations should not imply “agreements that mean granting impunity, privileges, licenses to steal.”

“I think we all have to contribute to achieving peace. Of course, the responsibility of guaranteeing peace and tranquility belongs to the State, that must be very clear,” he stated in his morning conference that he held from the tourist city of Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero, where in recent months violence has intensified. violence despite the fact that the authorities sent some 10,000 National Guard troops to reinforce security in that town devastated in October by the powerful Hurricane Otis.

Approved by Pope Francis

González Hernández suggested that the initiative had been approved, at least implicitly, by Pope Francis during a meeting with bishops last year.

A Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond when asked about the bishop’s remarks.

López Obrador acknowledged that this is not the first time that religious people have had this type of conversation and indicated that they had already done so in the neighboring state of Michoacán.

“Priests, pastors, members of all churches always participate and help in the pacification of the country,” said the president when praising the efforts.

Many ordinary Mexicans have quietly agreed to pay protection to the cartels for fear of being attacked or having their homes or businesses burned. The Church has also suffered the impact of violence with the murder of priests and has had to resort to military and police forces so that its clergy can enter communities plagued by criminals under escort.

Talks failed

González Hernández said that the talks failed because the cartels and drug trafficking gangs “asked for a truce, but with conditions.” When asked what those conditions were, the bishop responded “territories.”

Mexican criminal organizations not only sell or traffic drugs, but they extort businesses in the territories they control.

In rejection of the action of criminal groups on the country’s roads, drivers from the Mexican Alliance of Transport Organizations carried out strikes and blockades on some highways on Thursday to demand protection from the government.

In the midst of the spiral of violence that Guerrero faces, in the tourist town of Taxco, a robbery of a business was recorded on Thursday, which led to an armed clash between the alleged assailants and the authorities, which left one attacker dead and two injured. , among them a security official, said René Posselt, spokesman for the government.

When the alleged criminals were fleeing on a motorcycle, they encountered the truck in which the mayor of Taxco, Mario Figueroa, was traveling, and a chase and armed confrontation took place between the official’s bodyguards and the assailants, Posselt said. The mayor was uninjured in the incident.

Control of cartels

Under the policy of “hugs, not bullets,” the López Obrador government has avoided direct confrontation with the cartels, which has allowed them to take control of a dozen or more medium-sized cities where the prices of most products are higher because they include the “tax” charged by criminal groups.

Bishop emeritus Salvador Rangel said that he was informed of the dialogues by the religious who participated in the initiative and noted that in addition to González Hernández, the bishops of the dioceses of Ciudad Altamirano, Tlapa and the archbishop of Acapulco also participated in the conversations.

Rangel indicated that although the approaches “did not reach any conclusion” because one of the criminal groups “does not want to give anything away,” the initiative was positive to achieve a “cooling down of things.”

“I believe that every attempt to seek peace and harmony is valid. Dialogue is an instrument, let’s say, precious, golden, it is an international instrument that can be used,” said the bishop emeritus after acknowledging that when he was in charge of the diocese of Chilpancingo, capital of Guerrero, until 2022, he also had rapprochements with criminal groups to contain violence in that region.

The federal government has sent some 29,000 members of the Army, Navy and National Guard to the state of Guerrero to reinforce security, but they have proven insufficient to deal with the wave of violence generated by the struggles maintained by various criminal groups and drug trafficking cartels. for control of the territory.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP