Bishop says Mexican mayor's murder was message from organized crime

IMAGE: CNS photo/Margarito Perez, Reuters

By David Agren

assassination of a Mexican mayor the day after she assumed office was a message
from organized crime and evidence of its influence in the area around the city
of Cuernavaca, said the bishop who celebrated her funeral Mass.

“How is it possible that
all of a region of the state is in the hands of organized crime, that people
are paying protection money,” said Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of
Cuernavaca, in comments published by the newspaper Reforma.

“This is evidence of our reality,”
Bishop Castro said Jan. 3 outside the home of slain Mayor Gisela Mota in
Temixco, about 50 miles south of Mexico City in Morelos state. “I’ve been
saying it for some time and pleading, and no one has been able to do anything.”

He said Mota’s murder sends the
message, “If you don’t cooperate with organized crime, look at what’s
going to happen to you.”

“This crime is a signature
act that characterizes the failed public security system in the state,” he
said at the funeral. “I hope and pray to God that Gisela’s death helps to
make us all more conscious.”

Authorities said Mota was
murdered after assailants burst into her home Jan. 2, one day after she took
the oath of office. Two of the suspects were subsequently killed in a shootout
with police, while three more were arrested. The exact motive remains unclear,
though Mota promised to clean up Temixco, a suburb of Cuernavaca.

Morelos Gov. Graco Ramirez said
the suspects belonged to a drug cartel known as Los Rojos. The mayor’s Party of
the Democratic Revolution said at least 100 mayors in Mexico had been attacked
over the past 10 years as criminal groups attempt to infiltrate and corrupt
local governments.

Drug cartels have been fighting
over territory in Morelos for much of the past decade, causing crime to
escalate and damaging the tourism economy of Cuernavaca, a city once popular
with expatriates and weekenders from Mexico City and known previously for its
local pastor, now-deceased Bishop Sergio Mendez Arceo, nicknamed the “Red

Former Mexican soccer star
Cuauhtemoc Blanco — controversial for his on- and off-field behavior and a
novice to politics — assumed office as mayor of Cuernavaca in late December,
sparking a dispute with the state government over policing.

Ramirez took to Twitter to blast
Blanco for backing out of a scheme for putting all police in the state under a
single commander, a concept promoted as an attempt to prevent police
corruption. Blanco, who won the last mayoral race with less than 30 percent of
the vote, said the scheme was not working.

Bishop Castro has stayed out of
politics and has promoted peace in the Diocese of Cuernavaca since arriving in
2013, although his work has not been without controversy.

Before the June election, he
organized a Walk for Peace that resulted in attempts at a boycott and buses
from one parish being prevented from leaving.

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