Hipólito Mora: no forgiveness. Hipólito Mora: no forgiveness.

Defense force founder attends peace forum but won’t forgive his son’s killer

'I leave that to God,' says Hipólito Mora, whose son was killed in a gun battle in 2014

A former self-defense leader from Michoacán agreed to attend today’s peace forum in the state capital of Morelia but said he would not forgive his son’s killers.

Hipólito Mora’s comment came in response to the president-elect’s suggestion at last week’s first peace forum in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, that victims of violence should embrace forgiveness.

“I respect the people who say don’t forgive or forget. I say forgive but don’t forget,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.

But Mora, who founded the La Ruana self-defense group in 2013, told broadcaster Grupo Fórmula today that it was not up to him to decide whether forgiveness was in order.

“It’s easy to tell somebody to ‘forgive’ but we have to be careful and know who we are going to say it to. I don’t forgive them [my son’s killers] . . . I leave that work to God. God decides who to forgive and who not to forgive,” he said.

Mora’s 32-year-old son was one of 11 people killed in a gun battle between rival self-defense groups in the municipality of Buenavista, Michoacán, in December 2014.

The ex-self-defense force leader added that he has recently chosen to keep quiet about his son’s death because the current federal government hasn’t made any effort to investigate the case.

However, with a new government taking office in December, Mora said, he will once again seek to exert pressure on authorities in his quest for justice.

For that reason, he decided to go to today’s peace forum, which was also attended by victims of violence, academics, security experts and members of the future government.

“I didn’t want to participate in this forum . . . but I decided to go because I have many things to say that I couldn’t say to the government of President [Enrique] Peña Nieto,” he said.

Mora praised the incoming government’s decision to hold a series of peace forums to refine its security strategy and also said the plan to reestablish a federal Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) was a good idea.

“What [former interior secretary Miguel Ángel] Osorio Chong and his collaborators did, didn’t work because the country was painted red [with blood],” he said.

One person who did not speak at today’s forum, the third of 18, was Michoacán Security Secretary Juan Bernardo Corono, though not for lack of trying. He was there on behalf of the state governor but got no farther than “We are sensitive to your pain” before he was forced to withdraw in the face of shouts and jeers of “Assassin!” “Get out!” and “There is no justice!”

Alfonso Durazo, López Obrador’s nominee to head up the new SSP, took his place and stressed that the new government will not be able to resolve Mexico’s security problems if it doesn’t listen to and learn from citizens, especially victims of crime.

The proposals and demands of those who attend the forums will guide the security and justice policies the next government adopts, he said.

Another founder of the state’s self-defense movement was also there, but he left early, unimpressed. José Manuel Mireles called the forums “a circus” and complained there were no social leaders at the head table.

Source: El Financiero (sp), Notimex (sp), Milenio (sp)

Reader forum