Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Bishop of Saltillo: "Political institutions and media influenced by the Mafia"
"There is an abundance of 'narco' politicians"
Raúl Vera López, Bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo and human rights activist
In an interview with the Reforma newspaper on election day, Sunday July 4, Raul Vera Lopez, Bishop of the Saltillo Coahuila Diocese said the upsurge in violence in the states is derived from agreements between the drug cartels and elected officials, whether motivated by corruption and greed or just plain fear.
When asked about the elections on Sunday in 14 states he stressed that “what matters is not what happens today, the problem is what will follow.”
The prelate considered the situation grave in that many election winners will come into power with arrangements already in place with organized crime to enable them to operate without problems.
He argued that many journalists are controlled by the drug cartels and fail to report allegations of crimes related to their operations.
"There's a pretty serious cooptation of government institutions and the electoral process by the drug cartels. The governors or mayors arrange to give them the green light to do what they want" he said.
Much of his analysis deals with the internal fractures and strife between organized criminal groups that result in increases in violence and insecurity in Mexico.
He said the intention of the rulers is to try to control the situation. "They think that they are going to control things through arrangements but that is a lie, because the cartels that are not included in deals will lash out against the favored cartel and the politicians and you begin to have all the troubles that are happening," he said.
"No doubt the death of the Tamaulipas candidate for governor is an example of this type of crime”
The Catholic leader said that Tamaulipas has experienced the war more strongly because of the break between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, which has led to unprecedented violence.
"The bad thing is that when a ruler has a commitment to one drug cartel, other cartels will come and begin fighting among themselves.The worst thing is for a state government to commit to a particular cartel because people from other cartels become much more fierce and begin to wage war for the ‘plaza’ or territory" he explained.
Bishop Vera did not specify names or produce evidence that any particular candidate has made arrangements with organized crime. To have done so in public may very well have led to a death sentence for a man who has so much work left to do.
Bishop Vera Lopez has long been an outspoken champion of human rights throughout Mexico and Central America.
After the Zapastista uprising in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, the wealthy landowners of Chiapas successfully conspired with the Mexican government and others to have the Vatican remove Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, who had replaced Bishop Samuel Ruiz, because of his strong stand for indigenous rights.
As the Bishop of the Saltillo Diocese Vera Lopez has been threatened by the Mexican military for his advocacy on behalf of 13 female sex trade workers allegedly raped by Mexican soldiers in Saltillo.
Through the Saltillo Diocese office ‘Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Juan de Larios’ Vera Lopez has strongly advocated for the rights of the parents and relatives of the drug war ‘disappeared’, those abducted by drug cartels, the military and police of Coahuila, and for their safe return.
He has taken on the dangerous task of denouncing the drug cartels and calling for respect of human rights by government authorities, not only in Coahuila but throughout Mexico.
He has also advocated strongly for a comprehensive immigration reform, one that would stop deportations and the separation of families.