Mexican Bishop challenges drug cartels, won't stop people from arming in village under siege
Residents of Tierra Caliente are weary of harsh cartel rule.
With the blessing of Catholic priests and a bishop, residents of the Mexican village of Tierra Caliente are taking the law into their own hands. Citizens are arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect themselves from what they say is uncontrolled cartel violence.
Residents of Tierra Caliente are taking the law into their own hands. The Church will not oppose them.
Recently, residents have become fed up with cartel justice, which demand that businesses pay money for protection and generally answer to the cartel bosses. In an effort to control the citizens, bosses recently ordered the closing of tortilla mills, the equivalent of closing bakeries and denying people bread, and taxi drivers stopped taking fares on Day of the Dead.
Outside of town, a blockade is enforced preventing the delivery of fuel and other items. Smart drivers don't even attempt to make deliveries into the town.
All this has residents angry, and fed up that their community has been hijacked by criminal gangs and that the government will do nothing to protect them. Only the Church is left as an uncorrupted institution. Now, the Church is fighting back, blessing the formation of vigilante groups to take back the community from criminals.
Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez, of Apatzingan wrote in a letter, "This is like a cancer in our society." While he is not calling for the formation of vigilante groups, he isn't speaking out against them either, which has the effect of granting approval.
In an open letter he published on Oct. 15, the Bishop criticized the government for failing to protect citizens. He also criticized the local police and other officials for taking bribes and refusing to do their jobs.
Violent conflict in Mexico has already claimed more than 135,000 lives in the past six years and another 25,000 people are missing. Although few will say it, the nation of Mexico is effectively in a state of civil war.
It should be acknowledged that homicides are down by almost 20 percent, but kidnappings are up by more than 35 percent. The cartels also maintain a stranglehold on other communities besides Tierra Caliente.
For now, the public resistance has had little effect on the cartel which can probably overpower a local vigilante group through various means. Cartels are well-funded and powerfully armed. Government forces show little interest in seriously tackling the problem, even with broad community-and Church support.
For the time, the wicked rule and the people suffer. However, such corruption cannot stand for long. Now, as the Church challenges the cartel, the bosses will find themselves at odds with an unbeatable foe, God Himself and His Church. The Church has withstood many persecutions before, and has always emerged victorious. The cartels may not loosen their strangleholds now, but given the power and history of the Church, they would be wise to do so.
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