The death of two elderly priests and a tour guide in Cerocahui, Mexico on Monday has triggered a discussion in the country regarding the government’s pacifist policy on the drug cartels, as many points toward an increase in killings since the adoption of the policy.

Javier Campos, a 79-year-old Jesuit priest, and his 80-year-old colleague Joaquín Mora were killed on Monday while attempting to protect local tour guide Pedro Palma, who was also killed in the ensuing chaos and whose body was recovered with Campos and Mora by local police, according to the Daily Beast.

The blame for the deaths has been put on the shoulders of local gang leader Noriel “El Chueco” Portillo, who was reportedly high at the time and wanted to torture and kill Palma for an unknown reason. Portillo is considered a regional leader of the Sinaloa Cartel-affiliated Salazar gang.

“[Chueco] was on high drugs. He’s famous for going crazy when he’s that way,” Father Jorge Atilano said. “He had already been drugged and crazy for two days. He had burned down a house [in Cerocahui] as well. We don't know why he attacked the tour guide. We do know that he had previously kidnapped a tourist.”

Campos and Mora are well-known fixtures of the local scene, reportedly brokering peace with the local drug dealers and bringing a moral authority to the small town. Campos himself has been stationed in the area for over five decades, the Associated Press reported.

“I express my pain and dismay at the murder in Mexico, the day before yesterday, of two Jesuit religious and a layman. How many murders in Mexico! Violence does not solve problems, but only increases unnecessary suffering,” Pope Francis said regarding the deaths.

Many in Mexico have pointed to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s hands-off policy regarding the cartel toward the increasing cartel- and drug-related deaths in Mexico, whose homicides and murders have surpassed that of his predecessor in office.

“When the state doesn’t have control of territory and allows private armed groups to control it, we call that a failed state,” Father Luis Hernández said.

“What we have seen is that the federal government's strategy is not to attack the cartels,” Father Atilano said. “And that is making the cartels stronger.”

Two Catholic priests in Mexico were murdered on Monday alongside a tour guide after a Mexican cartel leader in the area decided to chase the tour guide that he was torturing. This is a representational image. ASTRO V/SUAL/Unsplash.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.