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Pope Francis visit to Mexico offers faint hope to state ravaged by drug wars

February 13, 2016
The Pope  will visit Morelia, capital of the troubled state of Michoacán, on Tuesday.

Pope Francis will visit Morelia, capital of the troubled state of Michoacán, on Tuesday.

In Nueva Italia, a small agricultural town torn apart by a decade of fighting between drug cartels, vigilantes and the Mexican army, the local parish priest has been left feeling increasingly isolated as he tries to point locals towards an alternative to a life of crime.

“People will turn to whatever they can to get by. Many people here, crippled by debt, end up with a rifle in their hands, taking orders from a boss,” Father Patricio Madrigal Díaz said. “Even the children imitate narcos and pretend to shoot each other. They use the same language as the criminals and recreate the violence that occurs here.”

The arrival of Pope Francis in the troubled western state of Michoacán, which encompasses Nueva Italia, on 16 February brings the faintest hope of a brighter future.

“I think his visit can intensify the humble attempts by local parishes to prioritise peace and provide support for victims and children,” Father Madrigal said. “There’s no one else for us to turn to. We can’t associate ourselves with the criminals or the government. People think they’re one and the same.”

Click here to read this article in full at The Independent. 

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