A Mexican drug cartel in the central mountainous state of Guanajuato has agreed to a 'Papal ceasefire' during an upcoming visit by Benedict XVI, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The group hung 11 banners -- a common way for cartels to communicate with each other and authorities -- saying they would accede to a recent request by Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago that they cease violence during the pope's visit to Mexico on March 23 to 26, Excelsior reported. (Link in Spanish)
The group, which the newspaper did not name, said the ceasefire was contingent on a rival cartel being blocked from operating in the state, authorities told the newspaper.
On January 22, Martin Rabago called on the members of the cartels to "collaborate at least to allow that all these people to attend a totally respectable act. Don't take advantage (of the situation) to do something that will take us to a place of sorrow and death."
Martin Rabago oversees the diocese of Leon, which the pope will visit on March 23.
Martin Rabago told reporters at the time that the pope's trip will bring "times of peace and grace." Leon has not seen the levels of drug violence other states have, but has experienced some attacks on highways.
More than 47,500 people have been killed since the government declared war on drugs at the end of 2006, according to the country's attorney general's office. The worsening violence and continued flow of drugs has caused many to question whether Mexico’s militarized approach is the right way to stamp out the cartels.
Msnbc.com staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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