(MEXICO CITY) — A four-day pilgrimage by members of the family of murdered or lacking Mexicans culminated in a tense confrontation within the capital’s essential sq. Sunday as supporters of Mexico’s president hurled insults on the households — together with dozens of Mormons with twin U.S.-citizenship.
Fervent followers of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador swarmed the Caravan for Reality, Justice and Peace because it neared the Nationwide Palace with the intention of leaving a letter for the president. “Depart the nation!” they yelled, accusing the victims’ households of being provocateurs or having been paid off by political opponents of the president.
The hostilities underscored the difficulties of bringing peaceable options to a rustic shaken by frequent and brutal killings that always go unpunished.
There have been almost 35,000 homicides in Mexico final yr — a file excessive for the nation and a disappointing determine for López Obrador’s first full yr in workplace. That works out to a price of roughly 23 killings per 100,000 individuals, in contrast with 5 per 100,000 in the USA.
Tens of 1000’s extra Mexicans have gone lacking over the previous decade, with few clues as to their ultimate resting locations and little assist from authorities in monitoring them down.
Members of the LeBaron Mormon group in northern Mexico lent their voice to the protest Sunday. Their settlement was upended in November when gunmen ambushed a convoy touring on a rugged mountain highway a couple of hours drive south of Arizona. Three American ladies and 6 of their kids had been killed.
The LeBaron group traces its origins to a polygamist group that left the U.S. for Mexico a number of generations in the past, after the Mormon Church banned plural marriage.
Adrián LeBaron misplaced a daughter and 4 grandchildren within the November assault. Earlier than the slayings, he mentioned, he was like an ostrich with its head buried within the sand — “unaware of the bloodbath happening in Mexico.”
“Now, I’ve lifted my head to by no means bury it once more,” LeBaron mentioned.
Critics have accused LeBaron of looking for consideration. He mentioned staying silent could be an insult to the reminiscence of his daughter and grandchildren and counterproductive for the hopes he has for Mexico to be a safer place.
“It will carry me disgrace to not give a face to a tragedy like this,” LeBaron mentioned.
Lenzo Widmar, one other member of the LeBaron group, inspired these strolling within the protest march to take away a shoe in honor of 9-year-old Mackenzie, a survivor of the assault on the Mormons who trekked greater than 10 kilometers (six miles) semi-barefoot to summon assist for her wounded siblings.
Widmar mentioned marches just like the one in Mexico Metropolis are a chance to attract consideration to the various different instances of slain and lacking individuals in Mexico that fail to attract a lot consideration from the media, or perhaps a correct investigation by police.
Strolling within the procession had been ladies like Maria Alicia Guillen, whose 6-year-old son, Eduardo, vanished with no hint whereas enjoying marbles exterior their residence within the southern state of Chiapas in 2012, and María del Carmen Volante, whose 23-year-old daughter, Pamela, was final seen at a music competition on the south aspect of Mexico Metropolis greater than two years in the past.
“All of us Mexicans must look to see the place we’re answerable for this,” mentioned Widmar. “It’s a humiliation that we now have this a lot violence in Mexico.”
Because the procession superior, trudging in silence for hours towards the presidential palace, it paused at “anti-monuments” positioned alongside Paseo de la Reforma, the capital’s premier boulevard, to mark searing tragedies.
Marchers shouted “Reality! Justice! Peace!” subsequent to a pastel-colored construction marking the deaths of 49 toddlers and infants in a fireplace at a authorities daycare heart and for which nobody has been declared liable.
Then they paused to depend to 43 subsequent to a steel set up that sits at an intersection to recall the faculty college students of Ayotzinapa who had been kidnapped and purportedly killed by a drug cartel working in cahoots with police.
Farther alongside, greater than a dozen moms of lacking younger males waited for the procession whereas holding photos of their boys with private particulars, akin to a puma tattoo on the left forearm. The moms chanted: “Son, hear. Your mom is within the struggle.”
All alongside the route, supporters shouted to the prolonged LeBaron household: “You aren’t alone!”
However when the marchers reached the central Zocalo plaza, a whole bunch of the president’s supporters briefly blocked their path whereas chanting phrases like: “It’s an honor to be with Obrador” and “Get out!”
LeBaron responded from a platform whereas talking right into a microphone that the caravan was made up of human beings of all political stripes.
“This can be a name for conciliation,” he mentioned, his voice breaking with emotion. “Peace is born within the coronary heart.”