Catholic priest and social justice activist Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, who has described Veracruz as Mexico’s biggest graveyard, denounced both politicians and church officials for crime and complicity yesterday during a visit to the state.
Solalinde came down hard on Catholic bishops for remaining silent before crimes committed over many years by organized crime gangs and officials with the last two state administrations.
“Before God they shall have to state the favors they received from those two scoundrels, [governors] Fidel Herrera Beltrán and Javier Duarte de Ochoa,” he declared.
Solalinde’s was one of the first voices raised in warning about mass graves in Veracruz, and some have since been found. But there’s more — and worse — to come, he said.
At least 300 bodies have been found in hidden graves during recent excavations, but “they’re nothing compared with what’s to come.”
“The largest [mass graves] have yet to be found in [the municipalities of] Coatzacoalcos, Acayucan, Tierra Blanca, Orizaba and Córdoba. There are caves there used to store bodies.”
The human rights champion and operator of a migrants’ shelter in the state of Oaxaca lamented that disappearances and executions in Veracruz have claimed the lives of innocent people, and that many migrants have been among them.
The latter are victims of countless crimes while passing through the sate, “and none of their relatives are looking for them.”
Solalinde said there are reports that dozens of bodies have been hidden in caves and most are migrants.
He believes that former governors Herrera and Duarte collaborated with criminal groups, and currently has doubts about the administration of Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares, wondering if he has a “real commitment to the victims.”
“I do not know if this governor has the will [to find the mass graves] . . . he named Jorge Winckler Ortiz [as attorney general], who lacks the profile and the sensitivity . . . .”
He also accused senior officers of the Federal Police of involvement in kidnappings and disappearances.
He suggested a truth commission with international involvement be created to delve into crimes against humanity, forced disappearance and genocide.
International judgment should also be rendered in the cases of the ex-governors and former public security secretary Arturo Bermúdez Zurita, said the priest. They should be denounced before international agencies and prosecuted for crimes against humanity, he said.
“It’s necessary to punish not only organized crime but authorized crime — public servants, governors, security secretaries . . . .”
Seven organizations made up of the families of persons who have disappeared had their say yesterday before the governor, with Solalinde present, criticizing the administration for its handling of the search for victims, insufficient funding, the lack of a database and other tools promised during last year’s election campaign, sloppy work by the Attorney General and a long list of errors committed in the process so far.
The search for mass graves has largely been left up to survivors, with little support from authorities.