Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 22, 2021

Yaqui Water Protector Tomas Rojo Identified in Shallow Grave: Third Assassination

Yaqui Water Protector Tomas Rojo Identified in Shallow Grave: Third Assassination

The assassination of Yaqui Water Rights Defender Tomas Rojo was confirmed on Monday. It was the third assassination of Yaqui Water Rights Defenders.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Sadly, our friend Yaqui Water Protector Tomas Rojo was identified today as the one found in a shallow grave near Vicam Pueblo, Sonora. Tomas was identified by DNA and fingerprints.

Tomas is the third Yaqui Water Protector to be assassinated since May. Agustin Valdez was assassinated in May. Luis Urbano was murdered by gunshots on the street in Obregon in June.

Vicam Pueblo hosted Water Rights Forums that were covered by Censored News.

For years, Yaqui maintained highway blockades on a major highway through their land, which stalled semis, in protest of the theft of Yaqui River water for an aqueduct for the City of Hermosillo.

Tomas was a spokesman during the Water Forums and blockade.

Agustin served as head of security during the water rights highway blockades.

Luis, who is featured in a new film defending Yaqui water rights, accompanied the Traditional Authority of Vicam.

Tomas, an agricultural engineer, spoke on Yaqui water rights in a video interview with Censored News in 2012.

The Traditional Authority of Vicam hosted international gatherings of the Zapatistas, upholding Indigenous rights.

Vicam Pueblo is located on Yoeme (Yaqui) ancestral land in the state of Sonora, near the Pacific Coast of Mexico, about a six hour drive southwest of Tucson.

(Above) Yaqui Water Protectors Agustin Valdez, Luis Urbano and Tomas Rojo.

AP: Mexican police identify corpse of Indigenous activist

June 21, 2021 11:46 p.m.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Prosecutors in the northern Mexico border state of Sonora said Monday tests have confirmed that a badly decayed corpse is that of an Indigenous rights leader who disappeared almost four weeks ago.

The office said DNA tests and fingerprints were used to identify Tomás Rojo Valencia, a leader of the Yaqui indigenous community. His body was found last week near the Yaqui town of Vicam, Sonora.

Rojo Valencia disappeared May 27 following tensions over Yaqui roadblocks protesting gas ducts, water pipelines and railway lines that have been run across their territory without consulting them or giving them much benefit. Rojo Valencia served as the Yaquis’ spokesman during past conflicts over land and water rights.

The confirmation came on the same day a 25-year-old Yaqui woman was reported missing after she left her home in Vicam to go to work, but never arrived. She was last seen June 17.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it his special project to bring justice to the Yaquis, who he has described as Mexico’s most persecuted Indigenous group.

In February, the conflict over the highway blockades came to a head with the death of an Indigenous man killed when a trucker plowed through a Yaqui roadblock, hitting a member of the group.

Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News.

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