Chiapas: Pilgrimage in Simojovel for the closure of “cantinas” and the end of violence; parish priest receives threats

Pilgrimage in Simojovel, June 2014 (@Frayba)

Pilgrimage in Simojovel, June 2014 (@Frayba)

On June 6, a pilgrimage of about 3,500 people from the Parish of San Antonio de Padua and villagers from Simojovel was held to pray for peace and to end violence. They asked the authorities “to close the bars, nightclubs, prostitution and vice centres which are damaging families.”  They also sent a letter to the mayor of the municipality, Javier Guzman Hernandez, to explain the problems generated by alcoholism among the families in Simojovel, because “we have all been victims of robberies, assaults and murders in broad daylight as a result of all evil.”

The Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre joined the pilgrimage “in the face of the social discontent due to the excessive amount of alcohol outlets, tolerated by the local authorities. They have resulted in increased domestic violence, extreme poverty in entire families, serious impacts on public health and social injustice in community life”, said the Centre in a statement. It added that “a cause which favours the existence and proliferation of bars and purchase of alcohol in communities is the economic resources that are channelled through social programmes, such as Procampo and Opportunidades.”

Moreover, the bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, said that the priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Perez Perez, has received threats linked to the protests to close bars and cantinas. The bishop noted that “some people whose interests are affected (owners of bars, people selling drugs or organizing murders), are obviously not very happy with the church’s position and the organization of protests about these things.” On the threats against Father Marcelo, he said: “The father is not organizing paramilitary groups or other violent actions; he is organizing people so that they realize they cannot live in a climate of violence.” He also commented that these threats could have been made ​​by people in political campaigns.

For more information (in Spanish):

Mensaje a quienes peregrinan por justicia social en Simojovel, Chiapas (Boletín Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 6 de junio de 2014)

Pueblo Creyente de Simojovel peregrinó para exigir: seguridad, libertad y justicia (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 6 de junio de 2014)

Piden se detenga venta de drogas, armas y alcohol, en Simojovel (Chiapas Paralelo, 9 de junio de 2014)

Amenazan a párroco por oponerse a las cantinas (Noticias Net, 6 de junio de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Believing People holds pilgrimage in Simojovel to denounce the increase in violence in the municipality (October 26, 2013)

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