MIAMI, August 30, 2019 (Morning Star News) – A Roman Catholic priest and an evangelical pastor in Mexico were killed this month, and another pastor was kidnapped, according to published reports.
The Rev. José Martín Guzmán Vega was killed on Aug. 22 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, in northeast Mexico, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM). The priest of the Cristo Rey parish in the San Adelaida area of Matamoros was stabbed several times at about 10 p.m. inside his parish building, according to CCM, citing neighbors who heard cries within. He was 55.
His death brings to 27 the number of priests killed in Mexico since 2012, according to CCM. The state attorney general’s Investigative Police officers were still looking for a motive and the assailant(s) at this writing. In recent years drug rings have targeted both Protestant and Catholic leaders for their opposition to trafficking in illegal substances.
“So far this year, various incidents against priests and other clergy have been recorded, such as the case of a priest wounded by gunfire in Cuernavaca, Morelos [state], and the death threats against various priests in various areas of Veracruz,” CCM reported.
On the other side of the country, in southwest Mexico’s Oaxaca state, pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was shot to death in Tlalixtac de Cabrera on Aug. 18, shortly after leading a worship service at his Fraternidad Cristiana (Christian Brotherhood) church, according to local news reports. Authorities were reportedly still investigating a motive for the gunman approaching the Protestant pastor and shooting him in his car outside the church site.
Church members reportedly managed to apprehend the suspect and turn him over to police. Pastor Cruz Canseco died en route to the hospital.
Authorities and Mexican media have noted an increase in violence in the area, with a drug ring called the Cartel of Oaxaca issuing threats on social media to carry out more executions in southern Mexico. Officials report more than 180 assassinations in the Oaxaca’s southeastern isthmus area so far this year.
A second cartel called Nueva Plaza has also reportedly appeared in the area. With high-caliber weapons, bullet-proof vests and covered faces, members have threatened other criminal groups, police and government officials.
In Tamaulipas, pastor Aaron Méndez Ruíz, head of a shelter for refugees, was kidnapped on Aug. 3 while interfering with a drug ring’s efforts to kidnap Cuban immigrants, workers told Spanish news agency EFE.