Civilians caught between warring cartels in Chiapas

Two of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels battle control of smuggling routes, putting Mexico’s peasant and Indigenous populations in the middle of violent confrontations
an image of a young woman wearing a blue blouse and a necklace, with glasses on her head. She smiles at the camera.

Recently, articles have been appearing in mainstream US news outlets reporting on Mexican criminal cartels in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, who are blocking access to ancient Mayan ruins and demanding payment from tourists. Two of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel New Generation, have been battling to control the drug and migrant smuggling routes that run from Central America through Mexico and to the southern US border. And, with the number of migrants increasing in the last year, the war has become worse as the rival cartels battle for the business of the Cubans, Asians, and Africans who have more money than the Central Americans.

Now, the local civilians, peasants and Indigenous peoples of many villages in Chiapas are caught between the warring factions of the cartels, the Mexican military and National Guard, and paramilitary groups who are paid to protect the resources of Mexican and international business interests.  The result, according to a message published by the Catholic Church in Chiapas, has been “violence and confrontations between armed groups and drug traffickers…kidnappings, disappearances, forced displacements of people and entire families.”

A young woman from Chiapas, who for the last four years has lived and worked with the Centro de Recursos para Migrantes and the migrant shelter CAME alongside CPT in Agua Prieta, Sonora, on Mexico’s northern border, received word last fall that the village where her family lives was experiencing cartel violence on a daily basis.  Her relatives and their neighbours feared for their lives and property.  By Christmas, she was able to visit her family.  However, because of the continued violence, she was not able to return as planned.  Not until several weeks later, she was finally able to make it to the bus station closest to her village and get back to Agua Prieta.  

  • Pray for the continued safety of this woman’s family and the safety of everyone in their village.
  • Pray that they have the strength and courage to resist, or maybe it’s just to endure, the continual violence.
  • Give thanks that she could return safely to Agua Prieta.
  • Give thanks for her continued work with migrants.
  • Mourn for the seemingly unending warfare in Chiapas and elsewhere in southern Mexico. 
  • For North Americans, repent your support – whether knowingly or not – for the demand for drugs and other resources.

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