HomeNewsBriefTruce With Criminal Groups Pits Bishop Against Mexico Government
BRIEF

Truce With Criminal Groups Pits Bishop Against Mexico Government

MEXICO / 5 APR 2018 BY FELIPE PUERTA EN

The refusal of Mexico's government to recognize agreements between a Catholic bishop and organized crime groups regarding electoral violence in the state of Guerrero has revealed a disconnect between official policy and the current reality on the ground in some remote areas of the country.

After more than two years of outreach, dialogues between Bishop Salvador Rangel and local organized crime leaders in Guerrero started to solidify in February. The religious leader was seeking to halt political violence that has left two priests dead this month.

In an interview with Spain’s El País, Rangel said he decided to open talks with the criminal groups to put an end to assassinations of political candidates.

“They promised me they would stop, that they would ensure a free election so it could be an election by the people,” he said.

The bishop reached the alleged truce with organized crime members on March 30, following the murders of 12 mayoral candidates in Guerrero in the past seven months. The state registered the highest number of homicides in Mexico in 2017, which went on record as the country’s most violent year in recent history.

Meanwhile, the Centro Católico Multimedial reports that during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which began in 2012, 21 priests have been killed.

Rangel and the criminal groups reached their truce despite the Mexican government rejecting the idea.

"The Mexican government does not negotiate the enforcement of the law,” said a representative of the Interior Ministry in comments reported by Excelsior.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Mexican federal government has relied on deploying security forces and prosecuting high-level criminal actors to combat organized crime groups and bring them to justice. But at the local level, a lack of institutional capacity often hinders such actions.

Guerrero has suffered more violence than any other state leading up to the July 1 general elections, when Mexican citizens will vote not only for the president and members of congress, but also to fill more than 18,000 local and federal government positions.

In Mexico’s more remote states, the federal government’s go-to strategy has overlooked local criminal dynamics and how they relate to local actors like politicians and the Catholic Church, which may limit the effectiveness of the approach.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

But proposals for addressing the country’s growing violence have taken a back seat to other issues in the electoral debate, one of the few exceptions being seemingly off-the-cuff remarks from presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador regarding the possibility of granting amnesty to members of organized crime groups.

Rangel’s decision to enter into talks with criminal groups -- despite calls not to do so from some sectors of the Catholic Church at the national level -- also shows how the actions to end criminal violence taken by local institutions can face challenges even within those entities themselves.

As InSight Crime has reported, in Latin America, co-opting local power structures by controlling political posts and public works projects is already a well-established strategy criminal groups use to increase power and secure impunity, sometimes with violent results.

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.

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

BRAZIL / 24 FEB 2016

A new book by journalist Ioan Grillo on Latin American organized crime offers a fascinating tour of four distinct criminal…

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 17 OCT 2011

The Mexican army rescued 61 men who were allegedly being held as forced labor for the Zetas drug gang in…

MEXICO / 18 JAN 2012

Major trafficking groups like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, which are responsible for most of Mexico's drug violence, will…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…