Monday, June 24, 2024

LeBarons return to Guerrero to visit family of slain teens

Four members of the LeBaron family continued their campaign this week to tackle violence in Mexico by making an impromptu visit to Guerrero to support the parents of two teenagers who were murdered near Iguala on Sunday. 

The LeBaron family had no personal connections to the teenage victims or their family but were moved to show their support when Julian LeBaron heard from local radio host, Moisés Ocampo Román, that children are being killed in Guerrero. LeBaron was accompanied by his cousin Bryan, aunt and uncle Adrian and Shalom, and local activist José Díaz Navarro.

The LeBarons met with the parents of Alexis Robles Bahena, 16, and Adilene, 14, who were killed on Sunday night as they were packing their taco stand into their father’s car on the road from Cocula to Iguala. Masked gunmen held down the father, Pedro Franco, while killing the two children; Franco’s life was only spared for lack of bullets. 

The LeBarons have been campaigning for justice since nine members of their family were killed in a brutal assault in November last year in Sonora. Adrian LeBaron, who lost his daughter and four grandchildren in the attack, said “when this happened to my children and grandchildren, it woke me up to the reality.”

The family also visited the Cocula garbage dump where the government claimed the missing 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were killed. As part of a prepared speech Adrian LeBaron said they came to the dump “so that people would not forget.”

At the site, local journalist and activist Ignacio Suárez Nanchez pointed out flaws in the government’s official version of events. Julian LeBaron responded, “The first victim of crime in Mexico is the truth.”

The 43 students went missing on September 26, 2014 near Iguala in Guerrero. According to the former federal government’s version, the students were killed by gang members after they were handed over to them by corrupt municipal police.

Summarizing the purpose of the family’s campaign, Adrian LeBaron said “we will keep going until there is no pain, until there are no victims, until we are invited to a party in the village and not to a funeral.”

Five Federal Police trucks with around 50 officers escorted the family at all times. 

Journalists grilled family members as to why the police were guarding them and not the local people. Bryan LeBaron responded, “You are right. It’s not fair to guard us while the towns are abandoned. I don’t know the reason. But if we, who have the voice and to whom you are listening, don’t raise that voice for other victims then we are cowards.”

This was the LeBarons’ second visit to Guerrero in the past few days. On Saturday, they attended a peace march in Chilapa. “It was the first time in five years that the people had taken to the streets,” said Navarro, who also confirmed that “the march would not have been possible without the presence of the LeBaron family.” 

Due to the level of crime in Guerrero, the United States advises against any travel there and has banned U.S. government employees from traveling to the state.

Mexico News Daily

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