By RICARDO CASTILLO
One week after the heinous murder of nine Mexican-Americans of the Mormon community in the Sonora and Chihuahua states border, awe and shock continue to make ripples around the globe, but in the end, there are no answers yet as to who is responsible for the bloodbath.
There’s been a lot of hearsay from all angles, as well as reactions. This is a bird’s eye view of much ado about nothing, except that the nine people have been laid to rest as the killing, including a pair of eight-month old infants, was very real.
The murder got presidential attention from the United States, with Donald Trump offering Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) help in waging a full-out war against cartel gangs pouring drugs into the U.S. market. Trump proposed categorizing the organized criminal gangs along the U.S.-Mexico border as “terrorists” and carrying out – with U.S. assistance – an extermination war.
AMLO politely declined the offer, much to the chagrin of many people in Mexico, who see a rising wave of crime as – in their view – drug cartels gain ground from the government.
According to available information, Mormon leader Julián LeBarón – who has been an activist in Mexico for the past decade – said he had spoken briefly to Public Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo and was told that there were the persons of interest already arrested in the massacre of the three women and six children.
LeBaron has bitterly complained about the performance of the Chihuahua and Sonora state authorities, who took 25 hours after the murders to collect the remains of the victims, all innocent and unarmed. “All that time exposed under the sun.,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron told Mexican official news agency Notimex during the burial ceremony of his nephews – they were all his relatives – that AMLO should accept Trump’s help, even if, for the moment, “we’re not expecting another attack.”
Previously, LeBaron pointed out that his relatives had been “targeted” by criminals, but denied knowing what their motives were.
Over the years, the Mormon and Mennonite communities along the Mexico-U.S. border have been losing ground to Mexican opponents, including other farmers, who have opposed LeBaron’s attempt to corner water pumping in the large and mostly desert area along the Chihuahua-Sonora region south of the U.S. border, where the tragic murders took place.
Last year, a group of farmers that operate under an umbrella trouble-making organization El Barzón invaded LeBaron’s farm and uprooted hundreds of pecan trees, claiming that LeBaron had improperly perforated more well than he was authorized to by the National Water Commission (Conagua). The LeBaron family tried to stop the rampage, firing shots into the air to no avail, and now there is a legal procedure to lay claim to the underground abundant (but never enough, in what once Geronimo’s war grounds) aquifers.
El Barzón (meaning the straps around a beast of burden while lining out a burrow) members – neighbors of the LeBaron farmers, along with Conagua officials, claim that Joel and Julian LeBaron dug nine illegal wells (out of 10) since 2014 to feed their pecan plantation.
To help in all this, the LeBarons went into Mexican politics and pushed for a relative of theirs, Alex LeBaron, to become a federal deputy after the 2015 election. Alex LeBaron had been in charge of Conagua in the state of Chihuahua, definitely backing the family agribusiness.
Among other events last week was the entry into the case of hawkish Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), who also demanded sanctions.
“I remind the government of Mexico that its cartels are murdering American citizens, and trafficking children, and flooding our communities with deadly drugs,” Hawley wrote. “So yes, I do believe sanctions are warranted for those who refuse to take action.”
Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Bárcena responded in a diplomatic and polite letter in accordance with the instructions she has from AMLO, also taking into consideration the fact that the victims were Mexican citizens as well as U.S. citizens.
Hawley responded: “In response to my call for sanctions, yesterday the Mexican Ambassador responded with a letter taking zero responsibility, offering no change in Mexico’s failed policies, and suggesting that the real problem is Americans’ ‘drug demand.’ As if Americans are responsible for the cartels’ crimes.”
But what else are we to expect from a senator trying to make a name for himself in international politics? Keep in mind that Hawley is also butting into the Hong Kong current mess. He’s just another opinion monger, like those who abound in Mexico.
But back into the discussion in Mexico as to who in reality gunned down the LeBaróns. Nobody knows and from the way things look, the crime will go away with the victims, buried under six feet of silence.
There is one ominous signal to all this and it is that someone has a bone to pick with the LeBaron family and the first thing these criminals aim for is not the target, himself but his or her family.
Alex and Julian LeBarón claim that everything seems to be fine now, and they have washed down their souls the bitter pill of seeing family members slaughtered the way they were – including a launched grenade in the attack. Let’s hope they are right.