Mexican Mormons Against the Drug War

9

June 6, 2011 by tristan savage

In the rising movement against the Drug War in Mexico, Julian LeBaron has emerged as a representative of the Mormon community in Chihuahua, Mexico. In July 2009, his brother Benjamin and brother-in-law Luis were murdered by assassins in retaliation for their work in organizing Chihuahuan communities to resist the frequent kidnappings perpetrated by narco-traffickers in the area.

Now, Julian has joined poet Javier Sicilia (whose son was found murdered earlier this year) in a caravan from Cuernavaca to Mexico City and eventually to Ciudad Juarez to demand an end to the Drug War and the militarization of their country. The Zapatistas in Chiapas have joined in the campaign, filling San Cristobal de Las Casas on May 7th with 20,000 rebels “against neoliberalism and for humanity.” And they have also been joined by several US-based organizations struggling against violence and government repression. The caravan continues this week and will end in Ciudad Juarez on June 10th. These were his remarks yesterday in San Luis Potosi, courtesy of Narco News:

Good afternoon, San Luis Potosí. It is an honor to be here in front of you and to say a few words.


Julian LeBaron reads from his handwritten notes in San Luis Potosí on the second day of the Caravan of Solace toward Ciudad Juárez. DR 2011 Tyler Stringfellow.

My name is Julian LeBaron. I’m from Northwest Chihuahua and I am here because I have seen a lot of violence. They killed my brother and when I saw that Javier Sicilia was doing something after they killed his son, I wanted to be part of a solution and I would like to speak with you a little bit about violence.

The violence is not in things. It is not something artificial. The violence is not in the guns or in the drugs. The violence is within us. The institutions, the government, the Army and the police are also citizens and are not things outside of humanity. Every one of us has our responsibility in this struggle. We created the violence, every day, or we make it stop existing. And only together can we end it.

I am convinced that we have to review our daily lives. That’s where it begins. Because the violence hides in the small details that become invisible and, later on, devour us. The bullets, the blood, the decapitated heads started out as shouts and insults and disrespect for the elemental minimum of care that all of us human beings need. My hope is that this caravan becomes a seed of Mexican men and women who made history with a message of brotherhood in the middle of tragedy.

This caravan is capable of inspiring more than 100 million to want to march with us and to live.

Long live Mexico and San Luis Potosí.

 

9 thoughts on “Mexican Mormons Against the Drug War

  1. elchupacabras says:

    The Lebarons are not members of the LDS faith, they are members of an LDS polygamist splinter group.

    • Robert Poort says:

      Julian LeBaron to be precise, is a Latter-day Saint of the FLDS Church, and definitely Mormon I would say.

      LeBaron spearheaded the movement after his brother, Eric LeBaron, sixteen at the time, had been kidnapped in May. Residents from the surrounding communities, including individuals who are fundamentalist Mormon, as well as mainstream Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and Mennonite (evangelical Protestant), organized vigils at the office of the governor of Chihuahua.

      • Robert Poort says:

        and we’re learning more as we go about mexican mormons in northern Mexico:

        http://www.getreligion.org/2009/07/what-makes-a-mexican-mormon/

        Thanks Tristan for this important post which not only shines light on the violence but also on the deep historical ties of mormons in northern Mexico.
        I’m pretty sure Mitt Romney’s campaign, or the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS for that matter, would rather not be associated with this story, but the bottom line is that we are all connected and that members of the mormon faith tradition in the Chihuahua area are coming together to proclaim peace and renounce violence.

  2. elchupacabras says:

    Interesting that the Lebaron family clan was actually FOUNDED on violence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ervil_LeBaron

    • Robert Poort says:

      I think we have to carefully distinguish between individuals here. The violence associated with the LeBaron family seems to have come from Benjamin and Julian LeBaron’s uncle Ervil LeBaron, so from another side of the family, and was actually directed to them. We are sometimes quick to associate all fundamentalist mormons with violent behavior which is not correct. Are all close relatives of those involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre violent? Probably not. Another thought is that numerous young LDS servicemen are involved in violent behavior in Iraq and Afghanistan; unrighteous wars based on lies and deceit, and no doubt terrible war crimes are commited in the process. Are the families of those soldiers who kill innocent civilians as collateral damage therefore founded on violence?

      • elchupacabras says:

        Agreed that everyone should not be considered to be a bad apple just due to their family members. Nevertheless, the Lebaron’s have a bad reputation in Mexico. I have friends who have personally been insulted by them, only for being members of the LDS Church. Also, I am looking for the link, but a couple months after Benjamin Lebaron’s death, I distinctly recall Pedro Ferriz de Con’s radio broadcast on “Radio Imagen” in Mexico report these words, “Una casa que pertenece a los Lebarones fue allanada por una corporacion policiaca del estado y supuestamente hallaron drogas.” In other words, there was a major shake down a couple months after Benjamin’s death in which police allegedly found drugs inside of the Lebaron compound.

        Frankly 95 percent of the Mormons with polygamist roots in Mexico are embarrassing. They are more American than they are Mexican and have a twisted sense of morality. And yes, I’m referring to the LDS “colonos” in the north too.

      • Robert Poort says:

        I just don’t know about those kinds of stereotypes.
        Within the mormon faith tradition folks get insulted everywhere around the world for being LDS or FDLS, or RLDS or whatever. Drugs in the compound? Owned by who, and what kind of drugs? “They alledgedly found drugs” and how credible are mexican police sources exactly in the present political environment? I bet you if the police would search any LDS ward-compound anywhere these days they would run into drugs as well. Do I understand correctly that most “colonial” mormons who practice polygamy or monogamy in northern mexico are dual nationals? So, as far as I’m concerned they can be a much or as little American or Mexican as they want. To members of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS 100% of all polygamists are embarrassing, but that has more to do with their own uncomfortable history they haven’t come to terms with than with anything else.

        Julian LeBaron sounds pretty credible (and mexican-friendly) when he says:

        “I wanted to be part of a solution and I would like to speak with you a little bit about violence. The violence is not in things. It is not something artificial. The violence is not in the guns or in the drugs. The violence is within us. The institutions, the government, the Army and the police are also citizens and are not things outside of humanity. Every one of us has our responsibility in this struggle. We created the violence, every day, or we make it stop existing. And only together can we end it. I am convinced that we have to review our daily lives. That’s where it begins. Because the violence hides in the small details that become invisible and, later on, devour us. The bullets, the blood, the decapitated heads started out as shouts and insults and disrespect for the elemental minimum of care that all of us human beings need. My hope is that this caravan becomes a seed of Mexican men and women who made history with a message of brotherhood in the middle of tragedy.
        This caravan is capable of inspiring more than 100 million to want to march with us and to live.Long live Mexico and San Luis Potosí !

  3. Which branch of the Mormon faith Julian LeBaron belongs to is irrelevant. The simple fact that he renounces war and proclaims peace makes him a truer Mormon and a truer Christian than even a General Authority who preaches war from the pulpit.

  4. Bill says:

    The LeBarons are NOT of the FLDS faith. They broke away from LDS Mormons due to plural marriage, but are not at all like the FLDS headed by Warren Jeffs. No forced or teen marriages and they are friendly to the mainline LDS communities in NE Chihuahua. These communities have worked hard to earn a good name in their State. I am grateful for their courage.

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