Mexico’s President Visits Family Of Massacre Victims, Promises Justice
On Sunday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, arrived in the Sonoran municipality Bavispe. Two months ago, on Nov. 4, three women and six children were massacred here outside the community of La Mora.
"The first thing is justice," AMLO said during his speech to the crowd gathered in Bavispe. "That's first, that those responsible are punished. That there's no impunity."
He also vowed to establish a monument honoring the slain women and children and recognizing those who responded to the tragedy.
And he promised to return to Bavispe within 6 months with a plan for economic development — something he says is key to diminishing organized crime.
"It won't be the way it was done in other times, using only force. Now we have a new paradigm, a new way that, we think, will give us better results. This new form of dealing with the problem of insecurity and violence starts with addressing the causes of insecurity and violence," he said.
That means strengthening families and creating meaningful opportunities for Mexico's young people, he said.
Family members of the victims said they’re grateful for the attention they’ve received from Mexican authorities, but his administration needs to do more.
“Preaching love and peace is never going to change those people. The only thing that’s going to change them is them is the rule of law," said Bryan LeBaron, whose cousin and her four children were killed in the November massacre. "They have to fear the rule of law. They have to fear justice. And until they do, we’re going to continue to see murder after murder after murder.”
LeBaron said he and his family believe in helping the poor, and in the importance of strong families. But they also want to see concrete actions taken to crack down on organized crime groups.
"That's the problem. He’s just not taking concrete steps to provide security. And it’s costing not only innocent lives, but it’s costing economic opportunity," LeBaron said. "We're living in a crisis. Innocent people are dying every day."
So the family is going to continue trying to raise awareness, he said, and hold the president accountable for addressing the violence that has affected no only his family, but thousands of families across the country.
To that end, they are calling people across Mexico to join them in a march starting in the city of Cuernavaca on Jan. 23, and ending in the nation's capital on Jan. 26, calling for peace and justice.
The La Mora tragedy has gained the international attention. The victims were all dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, and members of an long-standing offshoot Mormon community in Sonora and Chihuahua. It is not recognized by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as part of its church.
In the United States, President Donald Trump has suggested he might designate drug cartels like the one suspected of carrying out the La Mora massacre as foreign terrorist organizations. And Mexico has accepted the help of the F.B.I in carrying out its investigations. So far, at least seven people have been arrested in Mexico in connection with the case, and there are reports of two additional arrests in the United States.