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(Narco) Peace be with you?

Two priests, returning from a religous festival Taxco, Guerrero, were murdered last week.  The authorities were quick to blame the victims … not only had the priests been drinking (well, they were at a party, so that one didn’t fly), and — cue ominous music — were musicians, one of them was once photographed holding a firearm.  So far, the OFFICIAL STORY is that the priests were targeted by (out-of-state?) gangsters who mistook them for members of a rival gang.  Or maybe didn’t like their performance. Or anything, but what Bishop Salvador Rangel is telling anyone who will listen.

Guerrero, with a murder rate of 64.25 murders per 100,000 inhabitants IS a dangerous place, even for clerics.  While generally considered off-limits in the “drug war”, the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa finds itself in the middle of that war, with Bishop Rangel increasingly seen as an active participant.  Not that he, or his clerics, are packing heat, but that gangsters, poppy farmers, missing students (the 43 missing students were in his Diocese), and those caught up in the mayhem, are his flock.

While the state government released a photograph of the Bishop with three men and a helicopter (supposedly meaningful in some way) in an attempt to discredit him, Rangel openly admits he has met with gang leaders in hope of “opening a dialog” with at least one faction in the on-going violence.  Where he is facing opposition is from the State authorities, who, Rangel says, do not by any means, control Guerrero: “”All of Guerrero is in the hands of narcotics traffickers. … There’s an official government and another (authority) that gives orders.”

 So, he is talking to the authority that gives orders.  Who might be the same guys:
“I’ve said some politicians have narcotics traffickers as their godfathers, and they don’t like this because they also act this way, with impunity (and) with protection from the police.”
The political significance of this is that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to the scoffs of the other presidential candidates, proposed an amnesty for the narco-gangsters on Rangel’s turf. While the Bishop is not supposed to directly intervene in politics, he did say:
If the amnesty is for those people who want to amend their lives and correct themselves, I agree. He added that many times he offered his services as an intermediary and that Mexicans now have “a great weapon that is the vote” to support, more than a party, those people who want to pacify the country.

A good shepherd, or wooly-headed?

Sources:

Agren, David.  “Two Mexican priests killed in ambush” National Catholic Reporter, 6 February 2018.
“Obispo de Guerrero confiesa que dialoga con los jefe del narcotráfico” Reporte Indigo, 7 February 2018.

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