A valiant bishop fights back in lawless Michoacan

Silvio Canto, Jr.

One of my good friends in Mexico is a Texas A&M graduate who called on Sunday to talk about the future of Johnny Manziel, or "Juanito futbol" as he likes to call him.

We spoke a lot about the Texas A&M-Missouri game, the bizarre ending in Alabama and the Rangers acquiring Prince Fielder to play first base.  However, we soon found ourselves reviewing the deteriorating situation in Michoacan, Mexico.

As I mentioned in a previous post, most Americans don't know where Michoacan is.  Most Mexicans know too well that there's Port Lazaro Cardenas and a huge petrochemical facility is in that region. 

President Pena-Nieto of Mexico faces a growing problem in Michoacan, or ground zero in the Mexican drug war.  

As my friend said, Mexicans are really starting to worry about Michoacan.  My friend, a businessman south of the border, believes that Michoacan will explode and get a lot worse.   The terrain is suitable for guerillas.  The rural citizens of Michoacan hate what they call "los corruptos politicos del DF," or loosely translated to "the corrupt politicians of Mexico City." 

Like his predecessor, the federal government can not trust the underpaid police to fight crime. They are overwhelmed by the cartel's fire power and cash.

Therefore, President Pena-Nieto ordered more troops into Lazaro Cardenas port in the Pacific.  He has no choice because of the heavy trade and growing influence of cartels in port operations.

My favorite human story in lawless Michoacan is about a local bishop who has decided to tackle the cartels directly.  He is risking his life everyday that he delivers a sermon or puts the name of another victim on the church wall.  He is publicly calling them out:

"This is the bloodiest year since 1998 when it comes to drug violence here in the state of Michoacan.

For Miguel Patiño Velazquez, a 75-year-old bishop with a white frock and dark circles under his eyes, it is time to speak out.  

The bishop has criticized drug gangs by name, supported village vigilantes and demanded that the government restore order. Where other church fathers have spoken in generic terms about the violence, the bishop has been bold, leading the Catholic Church into the heart of the public debate.  

"Now is the moment to be one voice for our poor people, for our society," he said.

There are no easy answers for the crisis in Michoacan.  More troops will only extend tours for an exhausted Mexican army.  Mexicans generally admire their military but are also conscious that there were charges of human rights violations in Ciudad Juarez and other US-Mexico border cities.

Frankly, there is not much that we can do except to curb our consumption of illegal drugs.   It would help if Americans understood that even recreational use of illegal drugs translates into a dead Mexican.  So far, there are 80,000 of such dead Mexicans.

 

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


One of my good friends in Mexico is a Texas A&M graduate who called on Sunday to talk about the future of Johnny Manziel, or "Juanito futbol" as he likes to call him.

We spoke a lot about the Texas A&M-Missouri game, the bizarre ending in Alabama and the Rangers acquiring Prince Fielder to play first base.  However, we soon found ourselves reviewing the deteriorating situation in Michoacan, Mexico.

As I mentioned in a previous post, most Americans don't know where Michoacan is.  Most Mexicans know too well that there's Port Lazaro Cardenas and a huge petrochemical facility is in that region. 

President Pena-Nieto of Mexico faces a growing problem in Michoacan, or ground zero in the Mexican drug war.  

As my friend said, Mexicans are really starting to worry about Michoacan.  My friend, a businessman south of the border, believes that Michoacan will explode and get a lot worse.   The terrain is suitable for guerillas.  The rural citizens of Michoacan hate what they call "los corruptos politicos del DF," or loosely translated to "the corrupt politicians of Mexico City." 

Like his predecessor, the federal government can not trust the underpaid police to fight crime. They are overwhelmed by the cartel's fire power and cash.

Therefore, President Pena-Nieto ordered more troops into Lazaro Cardenas port in the Pacific.  He has no choice because of the heavy trade and growing influence of cartels in port operations.

My favorite human story in lawless Michoacan is about a local bishop who has decided to tackle the cartels directly.  He is risking his life everyday that he delivers a sermon or puts the name of another victim on the church wall.  He is publicly calling them out:

"This is the bloodiest year since 1998 when it comes to drug violence here in the state of Michoacan.

For Miguel Patiño Velazquez, a 75-year-old bishop with a white frock and dark circles under his eyes, it is time to speak out.  

The bishop has criticized drug gangs by name, supported village vigilantes and demanded that the government restore order. Where other church fathers have spoken in generic terms about the violence, the bishop has been bold, leading the Catholic Church into the heart of the public debate.  

"Now is the moment to be one voice for our poor people, for our society," he said.

There are no easy answers for the crisis in Michoacan.  More troops will only extend tours for an exhausted Mexican army.  Mexicans generally admire their military but are also conscious that there were charges of human rights violations in Ciudad Juarez and other US-Mexico border cities.

Frankly, there is not much that we can do except to curb our consumption of illegal drugs.   It would help if Americans understood that even recreational use of illegal drugs translates into a dead Mexican.  So far, there are 80,000 of such dead Mexicans.

 

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.