Four Catholic Bishops Meet Leaders of Mexico's Drug Cartels to Negotiate a Possible Peace Deal

Four Catholic bishops met with leaders of Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to negotiate a possible peace deal, one of the bishops said, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday that he approves of such talks. The revelation was made by Chilpancingo-Chilapa Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández, while speaking during a public appearance. The bishops belong to the Ecclesiastical Province of Acapulco, the other three prelates who took part were the archbishop of Acapulco, Leopoldo González; the bishop of Tlapa, Dagoberto Sosa; and the bishop of Ciudad Altamirano, Joel Ocampo.
President López Obrador acknowledged the next day after the negotiations were revealed that it was not the first time that church leaders had held conversations of this type, especially in Michoacán and other states; He noted that priests, pastors and members of all churches have helped pacify the country.
Many average Mexicans have quietly agreed to pay protection payments to drug cartels for fear of being attacked or having their homes or businesses burned. The church has also suffered, the cartels have also killed priests, but some gang leaders talk to church leaders.
The bishop said the most recent talks failed because cartels and drug gangs did not want to stop fighting over territory in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. These territorial battles have paralyzed transportation and led to dozens of murders in recent months.
Drug cartels and gangs in Mexico not only sell or traffic drugs; They extort almost all businesses in the territories they control.
Under López Obrador's "hugs, not bullets" policy, the government has avoided direct confrontation with the cartels, thus allowing them to take control of a dozen or more mid-sized cities, where prices for most products are higher. high because they include a tax collected by the cartels.
Retired Bishop Salvador Rangel, defended the talks. While serving as bishop, he had previously spoken openly about meeting with gang leaders to seek peace. “I believe that any attempt to achieve peace and harmony is valid,” he said.
González Hernández suggested that the approach had been at least implicitly approved by Pope Francis during a meeting with bishops last year.