HomeNewsBriefPriest Killings Highlight Mexico Govt's Credibility Problem
BRIEF

Priest Killings Highlight Mexico Govt's Credibility Problem

MEXICO / 22 SEP 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Local residents say the official account of how two priests were killed in Veracruz, Mexico is a "cover-up" for the truth about rampant organized crime in the gulf state, the latest illustration of the government's striking lack of credibility with the Mexican people.

Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz were kidnapped on the night of September 18, shortly after celebrating a 6:30 p.m. mass in the Veracruz city of Poza Rica. The priests' bodies were found the next day riddled with bullets in a nearby area known as the "Devil's Curve."

Veracruz prosecutors said on September 20 that the attackers were acquaintances of the priests and that they had been drinking together before things turned violent, reported the Associated Press. The attackers then allegedly stole Church donation money as well as some vehicles, abducting and murdering the priests and dumping their bodies. 

Archbishop Hipólito Reyes Larios corroborated the government's version of events by saying that it appears the attackers knew the priests, reported La Jornada.

But residents in the area are deeply skeptical, and suspect the murders were related to the organized crime and violence that afflicts Poza Rica. One parishioner interviewed by the Associated Press said that the prosecutors' account of what happened is a "lie" and a "cover-up." Other locals believe the government is absolving itself of its responsibility to protect citizens from criminal groups, according to La Jornada.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

For his part, the Vicar José Alberto Guerrero told Milenio that the priests had not received any threats from criminal groups, but admitted that Poza Rica is a "dangerous" place and that the priests at the diocese had received extortion calls. 

Pope Francis has condemned the killings and expressed his sadness over the "inexcusable violence." 

InSight Crime Analysis

While the motive for the killings has yet to be confirmed, the mix of suspicion and disregard expressed by locals toward the government's version of events is telling. A number of high-profile scandals marked by corruption and bureaucratic incompetency have eroded public trust in the authorities.

When drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from a maximum-security prison for the second time in July 2015, skeptics were quick to reject the government's claim that he left by riding a converted motorcycle on rails down a mile-long tunnel. 

"Everyone says he went out the front door," said one resident who lived near the prison at the time. That conspiracy theory has since been repeated by both Mexican and international journalists, despite widely circulated pictures and video of the tunnel and motorcycle.  

The government's botched investigation into the disappearance and likely murder of 43 students in 2014 has also deeply hurt its public image. Foreign forensic teams questioned the government's findings that the students were burned in a trash dump, and an international group of experts commissioned to investigate the case slammed the Mexican authorities in August 2015 for hiding pertinent evidence.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

DISPLACEMENT / 12 OCT 2015

A new report states that organized crime remains a major source of internal displacement in Mexico, but experts and victims…

JALISCO CARTEL / 9 JUL 2021

A series of photos taken in a Mexican town, that has been the focal point of major criminal engagements this…

JALISCO CARTEL / 15 JUL 2016

More than three years into the term of Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…