Citizens React: Pope Visits Southern Mexico

 

Article Highlights

 
Elizabeth Gómez Solórzano is a native of Chiapas state who is currently living in Dallas, Texas. She traveled to Chiapas for the pope’s visit on Mon., Feb. 15, with her son, who she says is autistic. The sign she is holding in front of his stroller says, "Pope Francis. Please bless all the children with autism like me. Thanks for visiting us.” Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico
Mexico

Pope Francis visited Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, this week, where he met with indigenous leaders and led a Mass, parts of which were conducted in indigenous languages. People there told GPJ how they felt about the pontiff’s visit.

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, MEXICO – Pope Francis’s fourth day in Mexico took him to Chiapas, the country’s southernmost state, where his presence was viewed as a chance for the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the indigenous cultures that thrive there.

More than 1 million of the state’s nearly 4.8 million residents are indigenous, according to 2010 government data.

Parts of Monday morning’s Mass in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas were conducted in some of the area’s indigenous languages including Ch’ol, Tsotsil and Tseltal.

In the days leading up to Francis’s visit, local people said they were eager to hear his views on indigenous issues, corruption, immigration and poverty, among others.

The poverty rate in Chiapas is 76.2 percent — the highest in the country, according to 2014 government estimates.

GPJ asked people in San Cristóbal de las Casas how they felt about the pope’s visit. Here are excerpts from those interviews:

 

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“It’s an opportunity for the church to recover some people. This visit will put a precedent of the church with the indigenous populations. And we consider it necessary that the church takes a stance of recognition of the indigenous people, as they continue being the most forgotten, the most abandoned, and that they live in greatest poverty.” — David Hernández, 39

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“The visit of Pope Francis is a lot for us Catholics. That is why we are here with pleasure, willing to endure the cold.” — Silvano López González, 59

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“I am sick. And if the pope came to bless me, it would give me much joy, a happiness and a cure. We go to receive his blessing, and that cures us.” — Enrique Alvarado Ramirez, 58

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“In Chiapas we have a large population of Catholics who are faithful to the religion. He is a pope who walks at the side of the weak, of the sick, the migrants. He is in defense of the people in need. The visit should move the hearts of the leaders. Here there is a lot of poverty, a lot of child abandonment, and I see that the government spends on politics, on cartels, and not on the people who need it.” — Elizabeth Gómez Solórzano, 36

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“It is a joy that he’s here. It’s a great blessing. I feel that the Christians, we don’t believe anymore, and that we are not united, especially for the poor, for the indigenous. [Pope Francis] invites us to unite because we are disunited, there is no support. He wants us to worry for others.” — Martha Elena Jiménez, 59

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Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

“We traveled more than 18 hours to come to be with the pope. Chiapas is a place with a lot of conflict because there’s no longer one single idea, and I think that’s why he wanted to come here, to mediate in the many conflicts there are.” — Dora Sánchez Vázquez, 42 (left)

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Marissa Revilla, GPJ Mexico

“They say that he is only coming for the indigenous people. But the ladino people, where do they remain? They also need him. He comes for the indigenous people who have changed religion.”

— Margarita Meneses López, 46

(Editor’s note: Ladino refers to Spanish-speaking people in Latin America of predominantly Spanish origin.)

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Marissa Revilla, GPJ Mexico

“Hopefully it brings a lot of peace, because it’s needed in San Cristóbal.” — Abenamar Daniel López Burguete, 39

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Marissa Revilla, GPJ Mexico

“I find the natural consequence absurd. There was a lot of trampling to the trees and animals. It is sad to see so much garbage, plastic.” — Diego Moreno, 23

 

 

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