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By Lucio for Borderland Beat (edited by TTAG and republished with permission)

Mexico is officially now the most dangerous place on earth for Catholic Priests.  While long in the top group of most dangerous places for priests, Mexico is now its leader.  For the sixth consecutive year, Mexico tops the list in murders and disappearances of Catholic priests in Latin America. What must be established, murders and kidnappings of priests receive little attention outside regional reporting hubs. It is a perplexing, how a story of dozens of  priests being murdered by cartels during two administrations goes unrecognized. For example . . .

With four days remaining in 2012, in the state of Michoacán’s padre Santiago Álvarez Figueroa vanished. Although he had received dozens of death threats leading up to his disappearance, authorities were quick to discount he had fallen prey to organized crime. Instead this story was offered, “we think he was in an automobile accident.” This was reported by Jesus Reyes Garcia of the governor’s office, who later revised the version when the vehicle of the priest was not found and parishioners rejected the account.

What is known: Father Santiago, 27, had just finished celebrating Mass in the tiny town of Jacona, he entered his car and headed home to his hometown of Paredones. He called one of the nuns, advising  he was on his way back home. He never arrived.

Santiago’s  body was never found.  He is not listed as murdered, he is with the other priests in perpetual limbo on the “disappeared” list. His Bakersfield, California, family, has no doubt he was murdered by organized crime, most likely the culprits are Caballeros Templarios.

Organized crime killings of priests are particularly brutal. The recovered bodies of priests depict odious, barbaric torture and killing.  Decapitation, dismemberment, incineration, strangulation, drowning, torture and rape are the methods used against priests in additional to the “conventional” killing methods of gunshot or stabbings.

In the last months of 2013, at least five priests were taken and all presumed dead in southern Tamaulipas. Carlos Ornelas Puga was kidnapped on November 3rd  He was taken at gunpoint, from a parish in the municipality of Jiménez, although he belonged to the diocese of Ciudad Victoria.  The Catholic Church did not confirm this for over a week.

On November 29, 2013 priests Hipólito Villalobos Lima and Nicolas de la Cruz Martinez were executed in the parish of San Cristóbal de Ixhuatlán de Madero, Veracruz.

In December two additional priests vanished in Tamaulipas, “In recent days two other priests disappeared from Ciudad Victoria,” said the church source who asked to remain anonymous. The murdered victim was identified as Guillermo Amaro Caésar, who died from a beating by suspected members of organized crime using bats.  However, state authorities downplayed version, says the priest was victim of an “assault.”

Bishop José Flores Preciado, in the Temple of Christ del Rey, in the city of Colima, Colima was also “lost” in 2013. The 83 year old was beaten to death. The day after the killing, Bishop Jose Luis Amezcua Melgoza revealed that 30 of the of the 123 priests of  Colima had been the victims of attempted extortion, including himself.

Father Ignacio Cortés Álvarez, “Nachito” was the priest in charge of the parish, “María Auxiliadora” in Ensenada, Baja California. The priest died after suffering over two dozen stab wounds. His killers found the priest in the rectory living room, where the murder took place.

In April of 2014, Padre John Ssenyondoof Chilapa, Guerrero disappeared while traveling back from conducting mass (service) in the mountains of Guerrero. His disappearance went almost without notice, if not for the discovery of a mass grave. The Catholic Church was quiet about the case, the regional rector of the cathedral, Javier Casarrubias Carballido, never commented on the missing Priest.

In 2014 Guerrero lost two other priests: José Ascensión Acuña Osorio and Gregorio López Gorostieta. The killing continues.

Why are priest targeted?

Long held rumors of priests ingratiating themselves towards organized crime groups for financial gain, benefiting their parishes, is persistent, but inaccurate. That would be the exception not the norm. Organized crime regards priests as the enemy. The following lists a few of the reasons why.

Sermons: outspoken priests, who preaching against organized crime, and the collusion of government officials and police.  Organized crime groups prefer to remain under the radar, and feel threatened by those who may encourage an organized backlash against their activities. Same can be said about municipal governments and police.

Assisting Economic Migrants:  Migrants, mostly from Central America, are highly exploited by cartels, and are at the core of narco occupational diversification.  For example the sex trade, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, and forcible recruitment into cartel work including becoming sicarios (hitmen).  Those who shelter migrants and advocate for migrant issues, interrupt business, resulting in bottom line impact.  Catholic clergy are the operators of 95% of migrant shelters.  They are also their greatest advocacy group, in and out of Mexico.

Who can ever forget the images of 72 migrants slaughtered in Tamaulipas in 2010?  72 human beings, executed for the crime of refusing recruitment into the Los Zetas cartel.

Throughout Mexico Catholic Priests create a safe haven for migrants. Priests provide migrants shelter, assistance, medical care and other forms of care.  Cartels consider this an intrusion into their source of revenue. Priests who run the migrant shelters such as Casa Migrante’s are constantly being threatened.

Catholic based Rehab Centers: Alcohol and drug rehab centers have become fewer in number than two years ago.  There were a string of attacks by cartels, resulting in the destruction of centers or mass killings of inhabitants.  19 killed in a Chihuahua rehab in photo at left. Cartels exploit the centers, extorting and forcibly recruit sicarios and drug traffickers, often death threats are realized when a rehab group resists. Others are killed for failing to pay for drugs or betraying a dealer

Supporting Autodefensa Movements:  Autodefensa groups are organized as a union consisting of 13 states.  Some priests are targeted because of their support of these groups, or direct involvement.

Refusing requests: In the narco world,  it is notable that there are large groups of Santería followers. Although the religious based cult is syncretized with Catholicism and Mesoamerican, it is strictly condemned by the religion.  Small “Santeria Chapels” are erected that seem to pop up overnight, that “honor” the Santeria offshoot Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte.

While there are millions of good people, often the marginalized people of society, which practice the “religion”, with no intention to harm others.  It is organized crime that have taken it to a sinister level, thinking that Santa Muerte will protect them from harm or imprisonment while they conduct criminality, including murder.

In 2013, Tamaulipas and Veracruz priests began receiving demands that Catholic altars in churches feature statues of Santa Muerte. Going further that masses be said in honor of Santa Muerte.  Parishioners say It is because of the refusals that some priests disappeared.

Extortion: Cartels treat priests/churches no differently than any other business in Mexico, they too are victims of extortion.

It must be pointed out that priests are kidnapped, often from churches or rectories, but the “disappearance” never budges  from being labeled as such. It’s only counted as “killed” or “dead” if there is a body. Those kidnapped and not found are not recorded on a drug war casualty list.

In fairness, neither is any other group of people, which renders official summations weak and without merit. Nonetheless, the point being that”dozens” of priests have been killed during the Calderon-Peña Administrations.

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  1. First of all, none of the priests were “executed.” Executions, are, by definition, performed by a legitimate State entity. The priests were brutally and savagely murdered, for any one or more of the possible reasons cited in the article.

    They don’t make the MSM because they’re Christians, first, and then the icing on the cake for the media is that they’re Roman Catholic Christians, i.e., persona non grata, probably child molesters, amirite? Christians/Catholics being butchered in the other failed states of the Sandbox countries don’t make the nooz here, either.

    Rest assured that if it was rabbis or imams being murdered like this, the media would be in a howling, frothing frenzy.

    Mexico is a failed state and soon enough, failed or not, it will have expanded into most of our Murkan Southwest in the new Aztlan, and our political “leaders” will have let it happen. With malice aforethought.

    • The corrupt politicians and brutal crime syndicates of Mexico are two heads of the same monster, two peas in a pot, and two sides of the same coin. They need each other, and work together. Like vicious animals, they feed together on the flesh of the people of Mexico. Together, they oppress, and impoverish the Mexican nation. Yes, they murder priests. Criminals and tyrants always want to murder those who stand up for the weak. The common people of Mexico desperately need the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense. That is the one thing that their “lords and masters”, the politicians and criminals will never permit.

      We must learn from things like these, and never allow the politicians and criminals of the United States to disarm and further enslave us.

      • Nice selective chronology and moral equivalency. I guess the United States can’t comment on something ever again because they found themselves in a similar situation almost two centuries ago. You remind me of the black guys who thinks slavery started in the 1700’s. They always conveniently forget they enslaved Caucasians in Ancient Egypt (according to black scholars). I guess, by your logic, they shouldn’t be able to comment on slavery…

  2. These priests need good men willing to defend them in their work to help the poor. Thanks for highlighting this Ttag, there is nothing on it in the American media. The blood of martyrdom only works against those who persecute the Church, look at the dustbin of history. May God have mercy on their souls.

  3. Not to sound raciest or over generalist, however, I was under the impression that most Mexicans were catholic. I guess I was misinformed.

    • Most Mexicans are Catholic (80% is the figure I’ve seen). What leads you to think you might have been misinformed about that?

    • Unlike some things you may have heard somewhere, being catholic does nothing to prevent you from being a gangster who kills priests, or a corrupt politician. Absolutely nothing.

  4. So the Vatican really is good for nothing it seems, even with an ostensibly populist South American at the helm. Sustaining the wholesale slaughter of their representatives, as their operations are drug deeper into criminality or pushed out by savage local pagans, all with nary a whisper given in opposition.

    Death cults are the harbingers of dark ages. It is no coincidence that curiosity/obsession/festishization of death thrives in the turmoil down there, just as it does in the unstable middle east, and flourished in centuries-old Europe.

    Just imagine what paradrops of thousands of loaded rifles into some of these remote villages could accomplish. I’m sure that neither the cartels nor their business partners in the Mexican or American governments would care for the results, but the natural balance of power would be restored in mere weeks. Not palletized ammunition, just loaded rifles; good for nothing else than to offer some defense to the wielder. Gangs would be made examples of, corrupt police and politicians would be made examples of, military reprisals would be met with crippling guerilla warfare. The authorities would have no option but to settle for autonomy in the regions they have so incompetently brutalized for generations, if they are truly unable to govern them justly.

    Every American village and town near the border is bristling with lawfully-held firearms; pretty much the only practical difference in each side of the border is their lawful ownership and use.

      • Both, obviously. It’s not like the Vatican doesn’t have guns/money of its own, nor any hesitation to protect with violence those whom it deems important enough. I’m sure their diplomat class is scared of being booted from the luxuries in Mexico City, though, so they keep their traps shut even as their operations are devoured by barbarians.

        • I don’t think the Vatican is as rich as you think it is. If every single red cent went to what you suggest, and each rifle cost $500 (with ammo and factoring in the cost of the airdrops), they could drop 600,000. Keep in mind that their revenue has dropped by a third, and even if a $30 million dollar cut to expenditures, they are still running a deficit (where under Benedict there had been a surplus). The Vatican City state itself has been running surpluses (note their revenue is from the admissions into the museums, the post office, etc, and their expenditures are for the same, including employing many lay people in Rome with jobs), but that did not offset the Holy Sees deficits. So basically you have the Vatican City state, generating 40% of the revnue, and spending most of that paying museum caretakers, workers, etc

          Now Peters Pence all goes to emergency services and charities . Even were it directed just to this end, the amount given has fallen in recent years (I think in part because a misunderstanding of where it goes). Follow that with revenues from the Vatican bank, which like any investment income is dependent on the economy, and you find out the vast majority of funds are used up in charitable works before they even come in.

          The fact is the City of Los Angeles gets more revenue from just fees, licenses and permits than the Vatican does from all its sources (ultimately revenue is 28x that of the Vatican) Heck my city of 37,000 has a total revenue that is a quarter of the Vatican’s.

        • @JoshuaS

          I agree, I think people think the Vatican has near unlimited resources.

          Having the Vatican send in firearms by “air drops” is probably as likely to make it into the hands of the correct people as would be dropping weapons into Iraq for the Assyrians and Kurds. And probably less so considering that there’s no way to figure out where the good factions are vs. the evil ones.

          I respectfully disagree that the Vatican can physically influence what is going on in Mexico. The Vatican isn’t in a position to raise an army or supply it’s priests. That age has come and gone. And, frankly, just because that was done in the past doesn’t make it right.

          As for the Vatican speaking out against violence in Mexico, the same can be said for lots of evil in this world. Just because it’s not specifically spoken out against doesn’t mean they tacitly approve. I’m not saying their isn’t corruption in some parts of the Church, but to imply that the entirety of the Vatican complicit is stretching it.

          Everyone is quick to point to the Vatican in this situation, but I’m pretty sure that personal security is provided by the person himself. If the priest doesn’t choose to tool up or ask parishoners to help provide security, then that’s his decision. Priests are fully aware that they could be martyred in this day and age in third world type countries. That’s a risk they accept which includes the chance that they may not have an option of defending themselves.

      • Both.

        The trouble for the RCC is that they’ve been peddling this “turn the other cheek” nonsense for so long, they don’t know how to deal with this sort of violence any more.

        There was a time, a couple hundred years ago, when if the RCC saw priests being murdered like this, they would have had a muscular and even lethal response. Today, they’re as politically correct as any other bunch of self-serving pacifists.

        • Wrong. It’s because these priests are part of the “Disarmed Populace”. If that stuff were to go down anywhere in my Diocese then my Priests would have armed escorts immediately. There’s a lot of Roman Catholics that are armed to the teeth. And I’m one of them.

        • MrVigs, I assume you live in the US, and I not only agree but I would be there beside you, although I think the religion is stupid, I do not believe in people being murdered by gangsters, if our government will not protect them, we’ll do it ourselves.

    • There are plenty of loaded guns already there. If the people are not willing to take them away from the cartels or the army in order to kill their enemies, then any further firearms will lie on the ground until the criminals pick them up.

  5. They died as Jesus died, and shall have everlasting life. They needed not your protection, nor your mourning.

    • Please. Jesus died (or rather, allowed himself to be killed) since it served a great and noble purpose for mankind. He was not murdered by anonymous thugs in obscurity, then his death ignored or denied by his followers. The Vatican won’t even publicly proclaim these men to be martyrs, let alone take proactive measures. Christianity, unlike certain other faiths, is not a suicide pact or death cult; these men deserve protection, if not by their own hand (which I would submit is a modern decadence not available to those in Mexico)

  6. Another consequence of the US drug war, foisted onto Mexico by threats of economic sanction and retribution.

    • Although I think the “War on Drugs” needs to be at the very least re-considered, you are ignoring that the Mexico has always been in a sort of a basket case since their very founding. If it’s not drug cartels and corrupt government that’s fighting (or assisting) one another, it would be revolutionaries of various causes tearing that country apart. The only reason that country is even held together is that the neighbors to the South are in worse shape and the we have very little interest in “managing” Mexico, even when we literally had them on their knees after the Mexican-American War.

      • Wrong. The Mexico civil war is almost a century old, and that was the last major social upheaval that country had until the US-mandated drug war.

        Funny how you bring up the Mexican civil war, another example of criminal interference by the US government in Mexican sovereignty in dealing with domestic Texan secessionists. Heh.

  7. Almost makes one want to help them somehow, but I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t get me into a whole heap of trouble.

  8. China, Cuba, Soviet Union, Hilter, the Cartel and Mexican Kleptocracy. Totalitarians loathe religion. It brings hope. It replaces government as the highest power. And that cannot be tolerated.
    China is again cracking down on Churches after allowing expansion the last decade or so. (They still cannot put Crosses on the exterior).
    The Lame Stream Media in the US hates Catholics (that are not Democrat and pro-abortion) not just the Catholic church. So they ignore it.
    They also ignore the 50,000+ murders in the last 5 years that are a result of prohibition and the virtual ban on civilian gun ownership in Mexico. They will always ignore stories that do not fit their preferred narrative.

  9. We’re halfway there. Government and mainstream media don’t report the truth or reality.

    Ever hear of the Arab Spring anymore? No? Must not be paying attention!

    How about the IRS attacks on conservatives? Or the attack on Menendez? I’ll bet he’s not the only crook they know about in Congress.

    Pretty soon it will be murder! Oh s$&t, I forgot about Ruby Ridge and Waco. For political reasons those kids and women and men were murdered so as not to embarrass anyone.

    We are already there, they’re just not priests but we’ll get around to them also.

  10. Maybe more than Obama being pro-Muslim, pehaps he’s just anti-Christian, Eric Holder included. We should recall that E.H. ran guns from ’09 to ’11 to MX cartels and that the homocide rate went from 8 per 10,000 to 24 per 10,000 those same years. Ohhh, bet the media missed that story.

  11. I find this to be an interesting article since many “people of the cloth” here in the United States advocate here for civilian disarmament. Case in point here in Washington state, many churches were pushing really hard to get I-594 on the ballot. I don’t think it would have made it on the ballot if it wasn’t for some of those signature drives at those churches.

    Granted I don’t think Mexico would be the lawless hell hole it has become if it wasn’t for the citizens being disarmed. Nor do I think that if they were allowed to carry that anyone of those missing in your article would have tooled up to protect them self. There is a certain herd immunity that keep criminals at bay when a percentage of the population is armed. I feel this is lost on the anti-gun crowd. That they take the low crime rate as a sign that firearms in civilian hands is just not needed anymore. Much like people who don’t vaccinate because they feel the risk of the vaccination out weigh the risk of getting the disease. Basically relying on the herd immunity of the disease to protect them.

  12. If Mexico had a lot more oil I feel quite certain that the USA, defender of the weak and oppressed, would be down there cleaning up the Drug Lord Problem real pronto. But they don’t have a lot of oil, so we just pacify the Mexican and USA population with weak gestures and hope nobody looks into the posibility that our Corporatocracy is really making a fortune off the illegal drugs and all the money made by asset forfeiture, jailing services, bail bond services, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam. The only difference between the Mexican Drug Lords and our Corporatocracy is that Mexican Drug Lords are not subtle. Our master have been subtle in the past, but now that they have us completely under control (and as long as we accept it, we are)l, they are beginning to show their true colors and are dropping the subtlety. We need a big change here, or this country will continue to go South, double-entente intended.

  13. Drug fighters, gun grabbers, and other illegalizers have destroyed America. They have succeeded in transforming the former land of the free into the world’s leading police-prison state with the world’s highest rate of incarceration. Military style assaults against peaceful Americans are now taking place in every city and town across the land. Drug owners and gun owners are routinely being treated like they are worse than murderers. Tens of thousands of these Gestapo assaults are taking place every year. There are more SWAT goons kicking down doors in the U.S. today than there were in Nazi Germany.

    All this evil was made possible by gun control. The obvious solution is to restore the right of self defense. With unrestricted access to the means (guns) of self-defense, the law makers and their enforcers would no longer be able to herd millions of the young, poor, and powerless into their prison gulags for the “crimes” of exercising their natural rights to life, liberty, and property. It would be like a million nazis trying to arrest a hundred million armed Jews. All the government goons in the world are no match for an armed public defending their natural rights. That is the reason why George Washington described armed citizens as “liberty’s teeth”. Sic Semper Tyrannus.

    Restoring gun rights would eliminate ninety nine percent of government criminals and private private criminals who prey on the defenseless. More than Ninety nine percent all gun grabbers, drug fighters, illegalizers, and private thugs would voluntarily disappear. It would be like turning on a light in a dark room and watching the cockroaches run for cover. Why? Because fascist thugs are not honorable people. Their idea of a fair fight is to employ a dozen government goons to point a dozen guns at one head.

    Freedom means that there are only three laws, the natural laws that prohibit assault, theft, and disturbing the peace.
    — Rick [Freedom_First (at) verizon (dot) net]


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