" THE Bad Man of Yucatan" has gone to confession for the first time for 70 years-but it was not his fault that the lapse of time has been so great, and he is not such a bad man. after all.
For many years the people of the Quintana Roo section of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula have feared the name of Juan Bautista Vega.
Although few claim to have seen the man, stories of alleged cruelty are widespread, including the charge that he has slaughtered many innocent captives during his lifetime.
But now Fr. Peter Petrucci, an American Maryknoll missionary, has met Juan at his home in the remote rocky town of Chunpom.
" Juan Vega did not live up to his reputation, even in appearance." said Fr. Petrucci. " He is a smalls aged man who speaks in a soft voice."
Juan told the priest that he had been born of Catholic parents on the Island of Cozumel, about 50 years ago. When he was 10--the year in which he made his last confessionhis father took him on a fishing trip off the coast of Quintana Roo. There a group of Mayan Indians attacked the party and killed all but Juan. "They brought the boy to their town and made him their scribe because he could read and write. He often used his influence to save the lives of captives."