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Catholic bishops in Mexico say they negotiated for attainable peace settlement with drug cartel leaders

MEXICO CITY (AP) — 4 Roman Catholic bishops met with Mexican drug cartel bosses in a bid to barter a attainable peace settlement, one of many bishops mentioned, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador mentioned Thursday he approves of such talks.

The revelation by Bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, José de Jesús González Hernández, in remarks at a public look, illustrate the extent to which the federal government’s coverage of not confronting the cartels has left common residents to work out their very own separate peace offers with the gangs.

López Obrador acknowledged it wasn’t the primary time church leaders had held such talks, and that they’ve performed so earlier than within the neighboring state of Michoacan and in different states.

“Monks and pastors and members of all of the church buildings have participated, helped in pacifying the nation. I believe it is vitally good,” López Obrador mentioned the day after the existence of the negotiations was revealed.

He mentioned such talks had been held within the neighboring state of Michoacan and somewhere else in Mexico as properly. “The church does it, I can vouch for this, in Michoacan, and so they do it somewhere else.”

López Obrador mentioned that whereas he had no downside with the talks, he would not approve of “any settlement that meant granting impunity, privileges, or licenses to steal.”

That rang hallows one parish priest whose city in Michoacan has been dominated by one cartel or one other for years. “It’s an implicit recognition that they (the federal government) cannot present protected circumstances,” mentioned the priest, who can’t be quoted by identify for safety causes.

“Undoubtedly, we’ve to speak to sure individuals, above all in relation to individuals’s security, however that does not imply we agree with it,” mentioned the priest. For instance, he mentioned, native residents have requested him to ask cartel bosses in regards to the destiny of lacking kinfolk.

Many common Mexicans have quietly agreed to pay safety funds to drug cartels for worry of being attacked or having their properties or companies burned. The church has additionally suffered monks have additionally been killed by the cartels — however some gang leaders speak with church leaders.

The bishop mentioned the newest talks failed as a result of the cartels and drug gangs did not wish to cease combating over territory within the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. These turf battles have shut down transportation and led to dozens of killings in latest months.

“They requested for a reality, however with circumstances,” González Hernández mentioned of the talks, held just a few weeks in the past. “However these circumstances weren’t agreeable to one of many members.”

Requested by native reporters what these circumstances have been, the bishop answered “territories.”

Drug cartels and gangs in Mexico do not simply promote or smuggle medicine; they extort cash from practically each line of enterprise in territories they management.

Below López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” coverage, the federal government has prevented direct confrontation with the cartels, permitting them to primarily take management of a dozen or extra mid-sized cities, the place the costs of most merchandise are greater as a result of they embody a ‘tax’ charged by the cartels.

Retired Bishop Salvador Rangel, who headed the identical diocese till 2022, instructed The Related Press that he had been knowledgeable of the talks by individuals who have been there.

He didn’t establish which cartels that attended, however there are at the very least a dozen such gangs combating for management of assorted areas within the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, residence to the resort of Acapulco.

Rangel confirmed that the talks failed as a result of the gangs “didn’t wish to grant something.”

Nevertheless, I’ve defended the talks. Whereas serving as bishop, he had beforehand spoken overtly about assembly with gang leaders to pursue peace. “I believe that any try to realize peace and concord is legitimate,” he mentioned.

González Hernández recommended the strategy had been at the very least implicitly accredited by Pope Francis throughout a gathering with bishops final yr.

A Vatican spokesperson did not instantly reply when requested in regards to the bishop’s remarks. The Vatican hardly ever feedback on the pope’s personal audiences.

That mentioned, the place articulated by the bishop is in step with Francis’ tendency to defer to the experience of bishops on the bottom, and his robust perception within the want for dialogue in any respect prices.

Francis has often been requested, for instance, about his willingness to ship an envoy to Moscow to attempt to negotiate with the Kremlin. Whereas Francis has mentioned you need to “by no means dialogue with the satan,” he has insisted that in real-world issues of warfare and peace, dialogue with the aggressor is the one approach to discover paths of peace, “even when it stinks.”

Clearly, it isn’t a task the church relishes. Because the parish priest famous, “we would not have to do that if the federal government did its job proper.”


AP reporter Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.


Comply with AP’s protection of Latin America and the Caribbean at

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