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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 5 NOV 2012

The Knights Templar appear to have evolved from a mere spliter group of the Familia Michoacana…

ILLEGAL MINING / 22 APR 2015

A new video of a caravan of hitmen in northern Mexican offers a rare view of the fighting forces of…

INFOGRAPHICS / 19 DEC 2011

A route through the center of Mexico, from close to Mexico City up to Coahuila on the US border, has…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…