Religious Motives Ruled Out in Recent Chiapas Violence

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico, JAN. 31, 2003 ( The Diocese of San Cristobal says that recent violence in the state of Chiapas was not triggered by religious motives.

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The clarification was made in a press statement signed by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, three vicars of the diocese, and the chancellor.

Last Sunday, two Catholics were killed in Tres Cruces, reportedly by members of an evangelical community. On Tuesday, when the authorities tried to arrest the suspected killers, shooting broke out, resulting in the death of one of the suspects and four policemen.

Since Catholics and evangelicals were involved, the international media reported the event as a religious question.

The diocesan statement insists, however, «that such events are not due primarily to religious motives, but to other interests.»

Attorney Mariano Herran of Chiapas also discounted religion as the motive for the confrontations and attributed the latter to a «dispute over economic and political power.»

According to judicial sources, the violence was triggered following the announcement of the closure of five traditional wells in order to build a reservoir to supply other communities. The announcement angered Tzotzil Indians.

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