In 2009, Julián LeBarón became an unlikely defender of human rights at the national level. The farmer, who also has US citizenship, was one of the main voices that demanded an end to the violence caused by the State’s fight against organized crime groups.
His role gained notoriety then because he was one of the few victims willing to face to explain how violence had broken their lives. Ten years later, Julián LeBarón has narrated a horror that never ceases.
This time for a vicious episode occurred at the border with the state of Sonora, where three cousins and six of their nephews were cremated in the middle of a dispute between criminal gangs.
“We have suffered the risk throughout the country…All Mexicans have been complicit because we have the largest and most expensive government in our history, which has been unable to give security to Mexicans and offer justice,” said Julian LeBarón to the journalist Carmen Aristegui.
He was among the first to arrive at this bleak crime scene on a dirt road that connects the Mormon community in Galeana with another in the neighboring state of Sonora.
LeBarón asked for help from local authorities at one o’clock in the afternoon, but it took them four hours to respond until the first military arrived in the area. “Everyone should be interested in solving this case. Who were? Where do these people live? Why did they do it?”.
On May 2, 2009, 17-year-old Erick LeBarón was kidnapped in that area of Chihuahua. His captors demanded a million dollars of ransom.
The great Mormon family refused to pay the ransom. Erick was released a week later. This experience left a dangerous inheritance within the family. Benjamín LeBarón, 32, one of Erick and Julián’s brothers, became a community activist and leader in Safe Organized Society (SOS Chihuahua).
The organization demanded the end of the violence caused by the fight against drug trafficking. The demand produced great pressure on this family of farmers.
Benjamin was killed in July 2009 along with his brother-in-law, Luis Widmar, for 17 hitmen who entered his house and took them away.
A decade later, it is believed that the homicides were to silence them.
The LeBarón belong to the Church of the First Born, a split founded in Chihuahua in 1924 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first settlers fled from the ban on polygamy established within the Mormon Church in 1890.
That was what caused some to reach northern Mexico in the 20s of the last century. Among them Joel and Ervil LeBarón.
The latter died in a prison in Utah (United States) accused of the murder of several of his rivals within the Church. At present, the LeBarón de Galeana Mennonite community is made up of some 5,000 people according to Julian.
The family has also been involved in controversy with local farmers. The water dispute has been the reason for these clashes.
The farmers, organized in the association El Barzón, have fought for the use of wells, a scarce commodity in the dry north of Mexico.
“The convoy (of the LeBarón family) may have been confused by criminal groups that dispute the region,” said the Interior Minister.