The killing on November 5 of three dual-citizenship American/Mexican adult women and six children as they traveled in a small caravan from their home in the Sonoran Desert, about one hundred miles south of the US border, offers a few sad lessons about life in the border region.
Eight additional children attacked in the caravan survived. Five had sustained bullet wounds.
These women and children were part of a large family compound, one of several Mormon settlements in the area dating back more than a century. Republican U.S. senator Mitt Romney, in fact, was born in one of these settlements.
These families were not fleeing from their homes, were not desperately poor, and from news reports were not regular targets of gang violence or religious or political persecution. Still, they were outsiders – non-Catholics in a majority Catholic country and region (much like the meaningful number of followers of indigenous religious traditions in Mexico), members of a religious community with a long history of violent repression, and blond, white European-Americans. They were pecan farmers with connections to a network of businesses across the U.S., and intentionally lived apart from the non-Mormon traditions and small rural communities near them in the Sonoran state.
These were meaningful differences from the migrants who travel by foot to seek new lives north of the border.
One more difference matters a great deal: their deaths were international news.
Every major news outlet in the U.S. is covering this story. Certainly, it warrants this coverage. Certainly, it is a tragedy. Yet it takes some real effort to encounter the fact that more than 120 migrants died in the same Sonoran Desert on the U.S. side of the border below Tucson AZ, while heading North, in the prior year.
These migrants mostly died of dehydration and injuries while seeking to evade U.S. Border Patrol. Like the women and children killed on the road near their homes to the South – who were en route to family property in Utah, a regular migration for them by car – they were targeted by drug cartels. The migrants who died in the desert, traveling by foot, were targeted for financial gain, for inclusion in the web of dominance and control the cartels enforce, and regularly to smuggle drugs and other contraband in lieu of payment to cartel-controlled coyotes.
The foundation of human rights is the belief that all human life is equally precious. This is a principle the Mormon church embraces, to its credit.
The tragedy of November 5, just north of La Mora in the Mexican state of Sonora, is a deep one. More tragic still, it is one among so many.
More on this story here, in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/05/world/americas/mexico-mormons-killed.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage