* Above, the funeral in Colonia LeBarón, via Zocalo de Saltillo.
In Mexico, citizens who organize to fight their communities' culture of fear and corruption become targets themselves. In Mexico, criminals express their power through killing. Religious minority communities are not exempt in such a system. From Elisabeth Malkin in Chihuahua:
When a 16-year-old boy was kidnapped from this fundamentalist Mormon community in early May, ransom was set at $1 million. The town chose not to pay. Instead, led by the boy's older brother, members of the community traveled to the state capital, Chihuahua, to demand that the government catch the kidnappers. Nobody knows exactly why, but seven days later, the boy was freed.
Soon, from other towns scattered in the valleys that stretch under the purple-rimmed mountains of the Sierra Madre, farmers facing extortion and intimidation began pleading with the crusading brother, Benjamín LeBarón — a great-grandson of the Mormon community's founder — for help. He tried, forming a group to help towns put pressure on the authorities. And then he was dead.
As things stand now, the Benjamín LeBarón case cannot remain an isolated incident for very long. But, there's always a back story. Richard Grabman at The Mex Files excavates the curious and blood-ridden history of the LeBarón clan:
When Alma died in 1951, leadership in the community passed to his son, Joel. Joel left the Apostolic United Brethern to found his own church, the "Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times." At least some of the LeBarons, including second in command, Joel's younger brother Ervil, later moved to Baja California. Ervil moved to San Diego, California to start a second church.
And, then it gets very, very weird.