Latin America

More than 50 murders committed during Pope Francis’s Mexico visit

Pontiff’s calls for peace fail to halt violence in one of the world’s most dangerous nations

Around 3,500 military officers take part in a special operation in Guerrero state.
Around 3,500 military officers take part in a special operation in Guerrero state.EFE
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Más de medio centenar de asesinatos en seis días de visita papal

Not even the message of peace that Pope Francis delivered throughout his five-day official visit to Mexico could put even a temporary stop to the slaughter in the country.

At least 52 homicides – more than eight a day – were reported across what is one of the most dangerous nations in the world during Francis’s stay.

At dawn Saturday – just hours before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was due to arrive in Mexico City – 13 people were killed in San Ignacio, Sinaloa, near the state border with Durango.

Among the dead were five women.

Authorities said the massacre was the product of an ongoing dispute between rival gangs who are fighting for control of the area. Two people have been arrested.

At least 52 homicides – more than eight a day – were reported across Mexico during Francis’s stay

In a shootout between other gangs in Maloya, also in Sinaloa state, three people were shot dead and a house firebombed with grenades, according to the daily Noroeste.

Over the past nine months, attacks by organized crime groups in the south of the state have become more frequent and forced many residents to flee.

On Sunday, two days before Pope Francis was to travel to volatile Michoacán, two men were gunned down on the street in broad daylight in Uruapan, the second largest city in the state, while they were drinking beer.

In the same city, the body of a man covered in gunshot wounds was found near a shopping center, while authorities earlier uncovered another body of a 25-year-old victim, who showed signs of having been tortured, in a secret garbage dump.

Another nine murders took place in Morelos over the weekend.

According to official statistics, an average 46.6 intentional killings took place every day in Mexico last year. In theory the homicide figure for the duration of the papal visit is lower, but at the same time it is difficult to pinpoint as the data was gathered from media reports and local prosecutors’ offices.

Similar murders took place in Guerrero where 14 people were reportedly killed within a five-day period.

In Acapulco, tourists at a beach fled after a street vendor was gunned down

One person was killed after the Mexican military engaged in a shootout with armed men in San Miguel Totolapa, in the state’s Tierra Caliente region on Friday. Authorities arrested one alleged attacker.

In the Pacific resort of Acapulco, which is heavily guarded by the military, one man was gunned down at the Tamarindos beach area while another victim was beaten to death at Hornos beach.

At another nearby beach popular with tourists, a street vendor was gunned down and a second person was wounded. Authorities had to cordon off the area while vacationers fled.

Other murders took place in Tijuana – where six people, including an elderly man, were killed in less than 12 hours on Sunday – San Luis Potosí and Veracruz.

In a brief ceremony in Ciudad Juárez that ended his trip, Pope Francis said: “The night can seem vast and very dark, but in these days I have been able to observe that in this people there are many lights who proclaim hope.¨

English version by Martin Delfín.

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