The Guardian

'They still respect their priest': the Mexican bishop who negotiates with cartel bosses

In the country’s heroin-producing heartland, Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza is attempting a radical solution to drug violence
Mexican soldiers stand amidst poppy flowers and marijuana plants during an operation at Petatlan hills in Guerrero state, Mexico on August 28, 2013. Mexico is being whipped by a drug cartels war disputing their place and the trafficking to the United States with unusual ferocity and sophisticated wepaons. / AFP / Getty Images

The bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza ministers to one of the toughest dioceses in Mexico: Chilpancingo-Chilapa lies in the country’s heroin-producing heartland, the setting for fierce battles between rival crime groups and security forces.

Violence in this part of the rugged state of Guerrero has reached such levels that entire villages have fled en masse and local morgues have run out of space to take more dead bodies.

But amid the bloodletting, the bishop has quietly worked on a radical solution: dialogue with cartel bosses.

“I am not reproaching their conduct,” he said. “Just to be allowed to talk with them and be able to resolve a

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