Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fast & Furious II ???: Mexican Priest Denounces Merida Plan in Protest Outside White House


WASHINGTON – A Mexican priest held a protest Wednesday outside the White House, where he denounced cartel activity and high-level corruption in his homeland and slammed the U.S.-backed Merida Initiative for increasing the level of violence in his country.

“We’re being governed by organized crime,” Gregorio Lopez Geronimo, known as Father Goyo, told a small group of reporters.

The priest is on a U.S. tour to denounce recent cases of violence in Mexico, including the disappearance of 43 teacher trainees in the southern state of Guerrero last year.

Authorities have established that those students from Ayotzinapa teachers college were seized by municipal police in the city of Iguala and handed over to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who murdered the youths, burned the bodies at a dump in the nearby town of Cocula and dumped the bones into the San Juan River.

Families of the students, however, remain unwilling to accept that version of events and are demanding to know why soldiers of the Iguala-based 27th Infantry Battalion who witnessed the police attack did not intervene.

Father Goyo also was due to meet Wednesday with Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey to explain the problems being created by the Merida Initiative, a U.S.-funded regional plan launched in 2008 to battle drug cartels and organized crime.

“We’re demanding a halt to the flow of firearms that arrive in Mexico as part of the Merida plan,” the 46-year-old priest from the western Mexican city of Apatzingan, Michoacan state, said.

“These weapons made in the U.S. are falling into the hands of not only the army but also the criminal groups,” he said.

Father Goyo has received death threats for speaking out against the activities of the Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel in Apatzingan.

That city of 130,000 people is located in the Tierra Caliente, a region where the Templarios once moved freely, had police and politicians on their payroll and controlled the region’s economy.

Mexico’s government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13, 2014, in an effort to end the wave of drug-related violence in the state almost a year after communities and businesspeople began organizing militias to battle the Templarios.

The priest also will present his arguments to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington before continuing his tour in New York to denounce drug-cartel activity and corruption in Mexico.


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