The funeral of Alejo Naborí, one of the three priests murdered in Mexico this year

Mexico remains the most dangerous country in the world for Catholic priests, according to a report from the Catholic Church that calls out the government for its lack of action in the face of rising violence against religious officials. 

This year was the most deadly year for priests in Mexico since the Catholic Church started keeping count, and this is the eighth consecutive year that Mexico has been labelled the most dangerous country in the world for religious officials -- a macabre trend that began soon after the launch of the militarized crackdown on drug cartels ten years ago.

Three priests were murdered this year -- two in Veracruz and another in Michoacán -- and the report states that four catechists were also killed. 

A total of 61 attacks occurred against church members in Mexico between 1990 and 2016, according to the report published by the Catholic Media Center (Centro Católico Mulitmedial), showing an alarming increase of 375 percent over that time period in the number of priests who have been murdered.

According to the report, "the vast majority of these cases presented a modus operandi: threats, extortion, kidnapping, torture and assassination." The most violent areas are Guerrero and Mexico City, with eight registered attacks in each since 1990, followed by Veracruz and Michoacán with seven and six respectively.

Moreover, reported extortions rose by 70 percent this year, according to the Catholic Church, which states that although organized crime was responsible for most of these acts, members of the security forces were also reportedly involved in some cases.

Based on the data collected over the past four years, the study estimates that the violence against Catholic Chruch workers will increase by 100 percent during Enrique Peña Nieto's presidency, rendering the current administration as the most dangerous for priests in Mexico since records began. Some 25 attacks against church officials have already been recorded during the four first years of Peña Nieto's government. 

The report criticizes the Mexican government's lack of response to these incidents, which it claims are increasing in part due to the criminal impunity that persists. More than 80 percent of the murders of priests have been left unresolved.

"This increasing phenomenon is the result of the Mexican government's inability to control the overflowing violence caused by organized crime in specific areas of the country." 

InSight Crime Analysis

Church members in Mexico -- still a deeply conservative and Catholic country -- hold visible and respected positions within communities, and priests have long used their role to defend human rights. They are often on the frontlines of defense between their parishes and organized crime, which puts them directly in the crosshairs.

The trends of rising violence against church officials documented by the report are symbolic of Mexico's generally worsening security situation and the government's apparent inability to efficiently tackle organized crime. A report published this year argued that the country's impunity rate reached 99 percent, which explains why the murders of so many priests murders go unsolved.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

General levels of violence in Mexico have risen over the past decade since the launch of a militarized crackdown against organized crime. Homicides did drop during the early part of Peña Nieto's government, but began to rise again in the middle of this year. August and September 2016 were the most violent months in Mexico since 1997. As long as the generalised climate of insecurity and high homicides in Mexico persists, it's likely that priests will continue to be targeted.

 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.