Press Release on Break-In at CEPS Office, April 17, 1997
Robbery Occurred in the Context of the Bishops' Visit to Chiapas
Early Saturday morning on April 12, the offices of the Bishops' Commission for Social Pastoral (CEPS) was the object of an unusual robbery: while they did not take the checkbooks, cash money, several computors and expensive equipment, they did take the two most important computors of the office, the ones with budgetary and other financial information, as well as other information internal to the organization.
Their entry was a violent one; they smashed locks and broke doors of the building at 106 Tintereto Street; the drawers of the desks were pulled out and some of the files were gone through. Nevertheless, various valuable objects were untouched. The robbery was reported at the Public Ministry Agency #31 in the Benito Juarez District.
The robbery took place in the context of a visit to Chiapas by a delegation of the Mexican Bishops' Conference, right after their meetings with CONAI and COCOPA to press the various social actors on the necessity for dialogue and for peace. The delegation was headed by the Bishops' Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, whose present director is Fr. Alberto Athié, Executive Secretary of CEPS.
This took place two weeks after CEPS had intervened forcefully in the defense of two campesinos and two Jesuits who had been illegally and wrongfully detained in Chiapas. It also happened about the time of the public announcement that the Bishops' Conference would lend its support to efforts to clarify the matter of the killing of Cardinal Posadas, and the declaration of the Conference against the new immigration law of the United States. In each of these matters, CEPS has played a key role.
This matter comes on the heels of similar actions directed against the Civic Alliance, against CENCOS [National Center for Social Communication, formerly under the Bishops' Conference] and other non-governmental organizations that have experienced similar break-ins. In the face of these robberies, one can only conclude that we are dealing with an action of investigation and intimidation coming from some sector of the government intent on holding back efforts for peace, justice and democracy.
It is worrisome that these types of occurances are repeated in a systematic manner without anything bing uncovered. Regardless of whatever hypothesis, this Center for Human Rights--Miguel Augustín Pro calls on the authorities to begin an immediate investigation, leaving no room for doubt as to the origin and motives of these acts of aggression. We also call on the society in general to express solidarity with the bishops, who have decided to exercize their good offices in support of peace, justice and reconciliation in the country.