By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexico is still mourning the gruesome tragedy that befell the Mormon LeBarón family on Nov. 4, in which six minors and three women were gunned down and burned to death.
The heinous murders of women and children by still-unknown culprits shook the nation to the core.
Who could be so vile as to perpetrate these violent acts? The problem is, there are gunmen in Mexico that, for a couple of pesos, will do the job and much worse.
Beyond the criminal nature of the deed, two LeBarón family members have overstepped the boundaries of sorrow into the playground of politics, both in Mexico and the United States, as they hold duel nationalities.
Chihuahua and Sonora Mormon community leaders Adrian and Julián LeBarón have requested the United States, as U.S. citizens, to designate the powerful and well-armed drug gangs in their region as terrorists. Their request sounded to U.S. President Donald Trump like celestial music coming out of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and he immediately said yes.
“They will be designated (as such),” Trump said in an interview aired on Tuesday, Nov. 26, with the conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly. “I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, such a designation is not that easy. you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process.”
It must be pointed out that during the interview, with obviously previously arranged questions and answers, although O’Reilly used the word “cartels,” Trump did not. The U.S. president also never used the word “terrorism.”
But that’s in the United States where the LeBarón rightfully claim citizenship. In Mexico, they are proving to be a veritable tortilla with two sides. Their request has many U.S. citizens now calling for intervention because “they are killing Americans in Mexico.”
In Mexico, the LeBarón are Mexicans.
Both Adrian and Julián – I’m not sure whether they are brothers or cousins, just that they are relatives – have launched a media campaign that is full of political blaming of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his administration.
For instance, upon arriving in Mexico City, Adrian held several interviews in which the inevitable question was if he felt secure in Mexico and if he was not a target of the family’s unknown foes?
“I will lay the blame on President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should anything happen to me,” he responded.
Then, Julián, who is well-known in Mexico because he joined activist Javier Sicilia some 10 years ago to participate in a March for Peace on Avenida Reforma in Mexico City, which at the time made former president Felipe Calderón look like the culprit behind the misdeeds and internal fighting of the drug cartels.
This very week, Julián LeBarón went on a Bloomberg television interview with Javier Risco. In it, he outlined exactly what he is looking for in the family’s current media rampage. It must be noted that Adrian and Julián LeBarón have an appointment on Monday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. at the National Palace, where AMLO will brief them on the investigation results, thus far, of the murder of part of their family. Seemingly, meeting the president will not suffice.
Julián LeBarón told Risco, in Spanish: “I don’t think the president, being one person, can solve the problems we have. Our message is for 130 million Mexicans. This is an enormous and complex problem and we have to start by overcoming defeat and actively begin participating and see how we can use our talent, our effort, our intelligence and our abilities to make the authorities responsible for the power they have and withdraw it from them when they are not complying.”
Julián LeBarón also wants – perhaps demands – for AMLO to make his private office gathering with the family public.
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, AMLO, who does not mind protests or dissidence, asked that all those marching on Sunday, Dec. 1, do so peacefully, since what is being celebrated on that day is not anybody’s demise, but his first year in office.
In any case, the LeBaróns have, wittingly or unwittingly, opened up a diplomatic war front between Washington and Mexico City that was not there before November. They were the ones that coined the term “narcoterrorism” in Washington and spurred Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard to fall into a trap of contradictions, since it was Ebrard who first called the killing of Mexicans at an El Paso Walmart store as an “act of terror.”
Just for the record, the word “terrorism” may not be applicable from an international juridical point view to the drug cartels operating inside and around the LeBaron ranches in Chihuahua and Sonora. And it does not apply because these are, in plain Spanish, “bandidos” (banditos, gringos say) as they have no religious or political cause in their gory deeds other than money. And the means to combat terrorists are different than those used against regular criminals, beginning with common law for common criminals and in the case of the United States, hunting down terrorist leaders (Bin Laden, for instance) abroad. This can easily turn into a diplomatic mess and notice, in the O’Reily interview Trump never used the word “terror”, though, for the unprotected, terror it most certainly is.
A final thought regarding the presence of Adrian and Julián LeBaron in Mexico City politicking has to do with property. They are defending the love labor of their family (their community was founded in 1924) built with hard work and sweat.
Still, the LeBarón properties today represent vested interests, and a final doubt remains: Why is the family being so savagely targeted by criminal gangs?
It’s just a question.