To demonstrate against mining, environmental degradation, drug abuse and violations of the rights of migrants, some 8,000 Mexican Catholics gathered in recent days, under the leadership of Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de Las Casas, on a pilgrimage in Chiapas - Mexico's southernmost state that borders the neighboring Central American republic, Guatemala. The pilgrimage brought together members of the 54 parishes of the diocese and a number of organized groups, that from three different points of the city, reached the central square in front of the Cathedral at San Cristobal de las Casa, after hours of walking.

During the Mass, which concluded the pilgrimage, the bishop said, "We demand a change, for a different style in politics, education, culture and life". "There are companies that want to own the lands that belong to farmers, there are corrupt authorities. We ask God for the strength to denounce those who distribute drugs, those who threaten and blackmail, kidnap those immigrants who pass by", he continued.

Drug trafficking and violence against migrants are serious problems in this diocese, and the Catholic Church has been committed to fighting them for some time. According to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, there were 20,000 reports of kidnappings of migrants in 2010. Every year between 200,000 and 300,000 migrants from Central America try to cross Mexico to reach the United States, but are frequently waylaid by organized criminal gangs who kidnap or rob them, demanding a ransom from their families. Many migrants are murdered on their way to 'El Norte.' Mexico's notorious narcoterrorist organizations, such as Los Zetas, are deeply involved in human trafficking. Mexico's Catholic bishops, and nonprofit humanitarian groups, have repeatedly denounced the plight of migrants passing through Mexico. 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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