Chiapas. The Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas announced that the Tsotsil indigenous priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez has an arrest warrant, as a result of the accompaniment he has given to towns and communities that denounce and confront criminal groups.
“Most of the areas of our Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas present conflict situations (…) by accompanying the suffering of the peoples and seeking true life for them, the interests of people are affected. and groups (…) It seems the reason to react with persecution, intimidation, threats and imprisonment”, indicates in a statement, the most important religious organization in Chiapas.
Through social networks, people who accuse the priest detailed that the Prosecutor’s Office Against the Forced Disappearance of Persons and that Committed by Private Parties issued an arrest warrant against Marcelo Pérez, for the disappearance of 21 people from Pantelhó.
The 21 disappeared from Pantelhó
It should be remembered that these 21 people were detained by residents of Pantelhó in July 2021, presented at the kiosk in the central park and then taken to another place, as part of the actions with which residents of the municipality alleged members of the criminal group called “Los Herrera” were expelledwho would have murdered some 200 inhabitants of that region, including Simón Pedro, a member of the group Las Abejas de Acteal.
The 21 disappeared, according to testimonies of residents, participated in murders, sale of weapons and drugs, among other offenses. After their arrest they were taken to another place and were never seen again.
Relatives of the disappeared also accused Pedro Cortés, an old man linked to the Diocese of San Cristóbal, who was later appointed president of the Government Council; and the priest Marcelo Pérez, whom the Diocese appointed as mediator in the conflict.
The intermediation of the priest and other religious and organizations that defend human rights, prevented the Mexican government from repressing the populationand managed to consolidate a Government Council.
However, just last May, the self-defense groups El Machete expelled the Government Council from Pantelhó. Councilor President Pedro Cortés said that this was due to the fact that the municipal government body refused to divert resources from the treasury to the self-defense group, since this group applies justice into its own hands; he even filed a formal complaint with the Superior State Audit Office.
Despite this background, the The Chiapas Congress dismissed Pedro Cortés and his Government Council, and the Justice Prosecutor’s Office arrested him on June 21 lastaccused of the disappearance of the 21 of Pantelhó.
An arrest warrant was also issued against the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, who months before had been summoned to testify about these events.
The accompaniment of the Diocese to the communities
Since December 2021, given the increase in the actions of organized crime groups in the indigenous municipalities of Chiapas, the Diocese of San Cristóbal held an extraordinary assembly where it agreed as the main point “to take steps to build peace from the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church against the violence of organized crime”, which included carrying out a diagnosis and having alliances with people, civil society organizations and institutions that agreed on this purpose.
A year earlier, in February 2020, in a pastoral letter, the Diocese had denounced that “organized crime every day occupies more spaces in the Chiapas territory, it is painfully adding to the national picture, and there is a struggle between competing groups at the state and local levels. In this area, the trafficking of persons for pornography, sale of organs and the sexual and labor exploitation of migrants and nationals stands out… These groups and forces, in many municipalities, manage to control the municipal authorities. All this caused insecurity, violence, extortion and forced displacement of people and families.”
In its letter this Sunday, the Diocese points out that violence and insecurity have increased in Chiapas in recent months, and recalls the murder of Simón Pedro, former president of the bees of Acteal, of the indigenous prosecutor Gregorio Pérez, and the month past of the municipal president of Teopisca, among many other people.
He details that as the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas they will continue to accompany the communities and build the pastoral care of peace. The priest Marcelo Pérez continues in charge of the parish of Guadalupe, in San Cristóbal.