Chiapas Under Siege: Bishops Call on International Community for Help Against Organized Crime
The bishops of the San Cristobal diocese, Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez and Luis Manuel Lopez Alfaro, have declared that criminal organizations have seized control of their territory. They described it as a state of siege, marked by narcoblockades that serve as human barriers, coercing civilians into risking their lives and the safety of their families by being present.
In a document titled “Chiapas, Plagued by Organized Crime”, they expressed that the State’s failure to address this situation has left the people in profound uncertainty. Consequently, they appealed to the international community to shed light on the ongoing violence in their state and urged the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of the population.
In Chiapas Crisis: Murders, Kidnappings, and Resource Exploitation Wound Communities
According to the Bishops, in these times of crisis marked by structural and institutional violence, alongside the pervasive influence of organized crime that deeply wounds the lives of our Chiapas communities and people, we are enduring a multitude of hardships. These hardships include murders, kidnappings, disappearances, threats, harassment, the exploitation of our natural resources, natural disasters, persecution, and property seizures, all of which are the unfortunate outcomes of our labor.
They emphasized that as both a diocesan church and a segment of civil society, they have consistently raised their voices against the social crisis, repression, and the presence of criminal groups. Regrettably, their pleas have met with no response on behalf of the people. The authorities’ silence places human well-being in jeopardy and reveals a faltering State that appears to be either overwhelmed by or colluding with criminal entities. This includes municipal and regional prosecutors, municipal leaders, as well as state and federal governments.
Chiapas: Civil Society Under Threat Amid Political Manipulation and Asset Dispossession
They highlighted a distressing array of issues, including threats, harassment, persecution, and intimidation targeting civil society. Additionally, there is extensive social, political, and psychological pressure to align with specific criminal groups. Political manipulation hinders access to basic services that people rightfully deserve and leads to the dispossession of their hard-earned assets.
Furthermore, they mentioned severe shortages of essential goods such as food and medical supplies, stemming from the ongoing violence. Authorities at all levels of government have failed to address the people’s demands. Forced conscription has torn families apart, and the territory faces rampant control, plundering, resource extraction, mining exploitation, and extortion. These actions violate both human and community rights, compounded by the presence of armed individuals infiltrating their communities and towns.
Aguilar Martinez and Lopez Alfaro squarely held all three levels of government responsible for disregarding civil society’s complaints regarding the events that unfolded. They called for immediate attention to the cases of violence and insecurity that are wreaking havoc on the lives of their people. Furthermore, they urged the prompt issuance and execution of arrest warrants for the leaders of these criminal groups.
Drug Trafficking in Mexico: Fifth-Largest Employer with Weekly Cartel Recruits
A recent investigation has unveiled that drug trafficking in Mexico has become the fifth-largest employer, driven by the hundreds of recruits cartels enlist every week. This revelation underscores the severe issue the country confronts concerning organized crime and the violence it inflicts upon vulnerable communities.
Conducted by researchers Rafael Prieto-Curiel, Gian Maria Campedelli, and Alejandro Hope, the study highlighted that Mexican drug cartels are incorporating approximately 350 individuals weekly into their ranks. This strategy is aimed at preventing the collapse of criminal organizations due to casualties in confrontations or arrests.
While there are no precise estimates regarding the scale of drug cartels operating in Mexico, a study published in the journal Science suggests that these cartels consist of approximately 160,000 to 185,000 members. This estimation is based on data collected on homicides, disappearances, and incarcerations.
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