Mexican drug cartels, who basically control the country, pounce mercilessly on any resistance, which may explain last November’s savage attack on a group of American Mormons trying to reach a wedding. Nine women and children were either shot to death or burned in exploding cars. It was also a clear warning to other Americans: We’re on our way loaded with drugs. Don’t try to stop us.
For decades duel-citizen Mormons had been living and farming in the Mexican countryside not far from the U.S. border. Relations with the surrounding cartels have been tense with occasional flare-ups of violence, usually ending badly for the Mormons. But there was no reason to expect trouble when two families with no men or guns traveled a lonely mountain road from the small town of La Mora.
It was a tragic mistake, said the usual apologists. One cartel mistook the Mormons for a rival and started firing. But at point blank range, shooting children in the back? No doubt a more ominous meaning was conveyed. Americans, largely spared the violence that has overwhelmed Mexicans, are no longer immune. As the cartels move increasingly north, challenging US. border guards, the gloves are off. We’ll kill whom we please.
The cartels decide who crosses the border. It requires either paying the cartels or carrying their drugs. Cartel bosses, in fact, are crossing the border themselves, taking up residence in respectable communities where they direct drug traffic and have a hand in politics. They are reported to have taken over a few small towns. They also have several billion dollars to disperse to willing recipients, which may explain the extraordinary lack of concern for what they’re doing. Iran, half a globe away, is all the rage when its danger to the U.S hardly compares to that of neighboring cartels.
The Mormons’ La Mora is now heavily guarded with troops and helicopters, and Mexican President Lopez Obrador recently appeared to propose a monument to the victims. which is about all he can do under the circumstances. There have been some reported arrests, including, typically, a local police chief. But cartel violence and control are on the steady increase. More journalists, for instance, are murdered in Mexico than in any other country. The recent discovery of the body of radio newsman Fidel Avila Gomez brings the number killed in 2019 to an even dozen. But no monument for Avila.