Mexican officials are up in arms over Pope Francis’ recent warning to Argentina to “avoid Mexicanization,” used in the pejorative sense of an illegal drug trade that is out of control, as well as widespread political corruption.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade accused the Pope of “seeking to stigmatize Mexico,” and said that the Mexican government would be lodging a formal complaint to the Vatican via diplomatic channels. He has already met with the Vatican’s representative in Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.
“We express sadness and concern over news of a private letter written by Pope Francis,” Meade said.
The Pope’s comment about Mexicanization was included in a personal letter to a friend, an Argentinian legislator named Gustavo Vera, and referred to his concern over the increase of drug trafficking in his native country, as well as corruption at all levels of government. “I hope we are in time to avoid Mexicanization,” he said.
“I was speaking with some Mexican bishops,” the Pope continued, “and the situation is horrible.”
The Mexican bishops, in fact, released a strongly worded declaration just last week, condemning the corruption that pervades all levels of politics and economics in Mexico, prior to political campaigns that will take place next June.
The bishops state that Mexico “has been afflicted for many years by the great evil of corruption,” which “encourages impunity and illicit enrichment, and lack of trust in political institutions.”
The bishops further said that “it is necessary that any constitutional and legal reforms bring about a National Anti-Corruption System, comprised of autonomous bodies, enjoying independence, professionalism, reliability, authority and resources.”
The Pope’s letter to Vera is reportedly a response to one that he had received, in which the Argentinian politician informed the Pope of “uninterrupted” growth in drug trafficking in Argentina.
Vera said that the Pope’s letter “just expresses a longstanding concern about the deepening of drug traffic and its rooting into the country.”
“There cannot be such a level of growth without some degree of full complicity,” he said.
Vera also said that Mexicans should not be offended by Francis’ words, since the Pope “loves the people” of that country very much, and “prays for them a lot,” he added.
For his part, the Mexican Foreign Minister said that the Pope’s words generate concern that there is complicity in the Mexican drug problem. Meade defended his country’s determination, saying that “it is a challenge in which Mexico has made enormous efforts and shown a great commitment.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.