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The priest negotiating with narcotics gangs

A Mexican bishop is in dialogue with cartel bosses amid escalating violence in the country. “I can talk with them,” Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza told the Guardian, although he admitted that progress can be difficult, with at least eight separate crime organisations working in his diocese.

Bishop Rangel has brokered prisoner exchanges between rival groups and negotiated the release of kidnap victims through his work. “When we perform our pastoral work, we are left with no choice but to move among them [the narcos],” he said. “If Guerrero is in the hands of narcotics traffickers and all those people work for them, when you do apostolic work, it is among them.”

The Church has also fallen victim to violence in the area – at last six priests have been murdered in Guerrero since 2009. Two were ambushed earlier this month. Last week a congregation of nuns withdrew from the city of Chilapa after the parents of one of the Sisters were kidnapped and killed.

“I know that people are afraid, even I’m afraid,” the bishop said at a Mass where he announced the news that the nun’s parents had died.

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