Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas Southeast Team
Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Peace
Comitan de Dominguez, Chis. 19 /08/23
- To the people of Mexico
- To our sister religious denominations
- To human rights organizations
- To the media
- To the three levels of government
- To the men and women who build peace
“Peace is the work of justice” (Isaiah 32:17).
Peace is a cry that deserves to be heard” (Pope Francis, 25. 10 .22).
“The truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32).
Today, as a Church that carries out its pastoral activity in this region of Southeastern Chiapas, we unite our cry against violence and insecurity with that of our bishops of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas and with the denunciations of the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM). As a Church, we want to be builders of peace, aware that, as Pope Francis says, “true peace can only be achieved when we strive for justice through dialogue, pursuing reconciliation and human development” (Fratelli Tutti, 229).
In our daily work we see that this yearning for peace and justice is at odds with the values that reign in our society, which is governed by selfishness, individualism, the competition of “every man for himself” and the dominion of the god of money, which contaminates everything.
Our communities and the people in general are experiencing a widespread situation of violence and insecurity, caused mainly by the presence of organized crime and its aftermath of murders, kidnappings and disappearances, threats and harassment against human rights defenders, community leaders and the people in general.
Faced with this reality, as a prophetic and liberating Church,
- The presence of organized crime that operates with total impunity, with the objective of controlling the territory, exploiting its natural wealth and charging for the right of passage, violating the human rights of the communities.
- The conversion of our territories and communities into battlefields, where different organized crime groups carry out armed confrontations to ensure control of the territory or routes in dispute. This generates: murders, kidnappings, disappearances, blockades, fear and forced displacement of people and entire families.
- The increase of clandestine or semi-clandestine bars and prostitution centers, where alcoholic beverages and drugs are served to minors, without the corresponding authorities doing anything to prevent it; rather, they seem to be accomplices and accomplices.
- The murder and violence against women and girls, which is carried out with total impunity.
- The threats, murders and disappearances of women and men, leaders of their communities and human rights defenders, with the aim of intimidating the population and slowing down and weakening any resistance movement.
- The constant harassment and armed attacks by paramilitary groups against the autonomous communities, with the objective of evicting them from their lands, without the authorities intervening to prevent it.
- The harassment, violence, extortion, kidnappings and all kinds of human rights violations of foreign migrants who pass through Chiapas to the US, often by the same authorities in charge of protecting them.
- The lack of sincerity and honesty in recognizing, on the part of the government and authorities, the reality of violence and insecurity that we are experiencing, as if denying the problem were the best way to solve it.
Therefore, with all respect, but also with all our strength,
- That the three levels of government, each in their respective spheres, comply with the constitutional task assigned to them of guaranteeing peace and security to the communities and the people in general.
- That our communities be freed from the control of organized crime, so that they can recover the sovereignty of their territories and the autonomy of their lives.
- That the municipal authorities control the establishments that sell alcohol and drugs to minors, because they act with impunity as true centers of corruption, without anyone taking responsibility.
- That the pertinent measures be taken to prevent and, if necessary, punish violence against girls, young women and women, which is committed with impunity.
- That threats, harassment, assassinations and disappearances of human rights defenders and community leaders be prevented by all means.
- That the paramilitary groups that act with impunity against the autonomous communities, preventing them from carrying out their normal activities, be controlled and sanctioned.
- That the rights of migrants be respected, so that the Mexican government does not bear the “dirty work” of the migration policies of the U.S. government.
- That a policy of transparency and informative truthfulness be established, that does not try to hide the problems; on the contrary, that seeks to reconcile all sectors, to confront this very serious problem of violence and insecurity that affects us all.
As the Church of Jesus we will continue to work for peace and reconciliation among our peoples and our communities.
We pray to the divine Spirit to convert hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, so that, among all of us, we may build a kingdom of peace, justice, love and fraternity.
May Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, intercede for us and for all the Mexican people.
Catholic Church of the Southeast Team, Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.
Original text published by Frayba Center for Human Rights on August 21st, 2023. https://frayba.org.mx/comunicado_equipo_sureste_dsclc
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.