Journalists profile conservative activist
But we weren’t put off. At around 5:30pm we all shuffled into the building carefully, guided by candlelight into our seats. We sat in the darkness waiting for the presentation to start.
“Serrano LimÃ³n is a fundamentalist who thinks that the modern world is wrong,” stated Roberto Blancarte, a professor and investigator at the Colegio de Mexico and a specialist on religion. The organizers were sitting in front of a black backdrop on which had been mounted a simple, wooden cross.
And then, as Blancarte spoke, the light returned. An electric spotlight suddenly illuminated the speakers, cutting through the darkness like a celestial beam. The audience applauded.
“He epitomizes the right. He summarizes in brief what is a bigger phenomenon,” said Blancarte.
“El Vocero de Dios: Jorge Serrano LimÃ³n y la cruzada para dominar tu sexo, tu vida y tu paÃs”, which translates loosely into “God’s spokesman: Jorge Serrano LimÃ³n and the crusade to dominate your sex, your life and your country”, is an in-depth look at the life of the conservative activist, who, according to the authors, “has influenced the Mexican public sphere for the last 20 years.”
The rhetoric of Serrano LimÃ³n is steeped in Catholic radicalism. A devout Catholic who claims to serve God, he at one stage considered the priesthood but instead opted for married life.
Frausto and Gecko report that he has opposed works of theater and art exhibitions, pitted himself against lawmakers and film directors, and planted himself in opposition to the use of condoms, the morning after pill and the legalization of abortion.
Mexico City is the only part of the country in which abortion is legal. Serrano LimÃ³n was at the frontline of a anti-abortion campaign earlier this year to overturn legislation implemented in April 2007 which decriminalized abortion in Mexico’s capital.
Blancarte said during last night’s presentation: “The problem is how much resonance he has with many people.”
To many Mexicans, Serrano LimÃ³n is a religious fanatic and moralist. In 2005, he was accused of diverting public funds in an incident that became known as the “tanga scandal”. His anti-abortion organization, called Provida, was fined 13 million pesos for spending public money on expensive watches and women’s underwear.
But the controversial activist has a broad base of support from many people in Mexico, as well as from the Roman Catholic Church and the more conservative strands of Mexico President Felipe Calderon’s National Action Party.
Although Serrano LimÃ³n wasn’t there to defend himself last night, we were told by the authors that he has read the book. His supporters produced the following video in response, in which Serrano LimÃ³n says that he is a truly happy man who loves his wife, his children and his job. He describes himself as a common man, like any other, with faults and defects, but as someone who has taken the decision to defend his ideals.
[video:youtube:yc8KZhEiFBI] “El Vocero de Dios: Jorge Serrano LimÃ³n y la cruzada para dominar tu sexo, tu vida y tu paÃs” is published by Grijalbo, Random House.
— Deborah Bonello and Los Angeles Times investigator Cecilia Sanchez in Mexico City. This post was written for la Plaza, of the Los Angeles Times.