Photographer: Francisco Robles/AFP via Getty Images
Narcos Have Agreed to Stop Murdering Candidates in Mexico, a Bishop SaysBy
Church steps in after candidates killed in state of Guerrero
Leader claims truce as Lopez Obrador floats amnesty for some
A Mexican bishop says he’s reached a truce with drug traffickers in the state of Guerrero to stop a killing spree of candidates ahead of elections July 1st, an indication of how weak the state has become in the face of rising violence.
Bishop Salvador Rangel told reporters he held several meetings with traffickers from different criminal groups after as many as nine candidates were reportedly assassinated in the state, several of them in the town of Chilapa.
His actions aren’t an isolated incident, coming after the leading presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, floated the idea of an amnesty for some criminals in the form of shortened prison terms. Pacts with criminals have also taken place in other crime-ridden countries in the region such as El Salvador. Still, it is highly unusual for the church to intervene in the face of rising violence in Mexico.
Last year was the most violent this century in Mexico, with murders rising even further in the first two months of this year. Guerrero has seen some of the worst bloodshed, including the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 allegedly at the hands of police allied with heroin traffickers.
Mexico’s federal government criticized the bishop’s actions, saying laws must be followed, while some local electoral authorities reacted more positively.
"There’s no place for doubt here. Laws must be respected and carried out," said Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida in response to the bishop’s actions. He acknowledged the spike in violence in Guerrero and said the government has identified the criminal groups responsible.