To combat the violence engulfing Mexico, the Episcopate Conference has released a pamphlet advising its religious of how to avoid high-conflict situations and possible death following the murders of 24 priests in six years.
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"Violence is an evil that affects our society. The church and its representatives were until a few years ago a small sector of society that could be considered ‘exempt’ from being a victim of these attacks. However, today it is urgent to address the issue seriously," the booklet reads.
The pamphlet is broken into two segments – personal security and locational security – and addressed to anyone connected to the church or Catholic institutions, both religious personnel and lay people.
Among its recommendations, the Mexican Episcopate Conference advises parishioners to stay in zones with good cell service; avoid instances of road rage during their commutes; avoid "psychosis and panic," and to know how to blend in and be aware of strangers in the street, especially those with "exaggerated behaviors."
"Do not argue or fight with the assailant; listen to what he asks of you; keep calm and try not to lose control with the aggressor… Do not try to confront him, stop him or disarm him; do not take unnecessary risks," the booklet continues, advising that victims note aggressors’ identifying characteristics.
Though the murder of 24 priests since 2012 has been a traumatic loss for the Catholic church, it hardly compares to the hundreds of victims of femicide and fatal attacks against politicians, activists and journalists over the past year – a trend the church seems aware of.
Monsignor Carlos Garfias Merlos, head of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Dimension, said: "What we are looking for is to implement prevention not only within the church, but at the level of the whole society."
In a 2017 report, of the more than 50,000 women killed since 1985, almost a third were murdered within the last six years. Last year 12 journalists were killed; so far this year 49 media staff have reported violent attacks. The NGO Reporters Without Borders says the true figure is likely much higher.
The Organization of American States calculated that, on average, one political candidate is killed every four or five days in Mexico. Since September 2017, 115 political candidates from various parties have been murdered ahead of the July 1 national elections.