Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 9, 2021

Assassinated Tomas Rojo: Yaqui was a defender of water rights, not interested in petty disputes

Tomas Rojo, Assassinated Yaqui Water Rights Defender

Motive for Tomás' crime, simplified conjecture

The coordinator of the Citizens' Movement for Water, Alberto Vizcarra Ozuna, questions the versions of the Sonora Prosecutor's Office about the conflict over the installation of a toll booth as the motive for the murder of Tomás Rojo, because that was not on the list of priorities of the Yaqui leader.

His fight was not against the criminal underworld, he says, but against the criteria of a water policy. "It is evident that the motivations for this crime transcend the simple dispute over a toll booth in Yaqui territory," says Vizcarra in the text we share here.

By Alberto Vizcarra Ozuna
Editorial staff AN / BDL July 8, 2021l 

The investigations of the Attorney General's Office of the State of Sonora into the murder of the spokesman and defender of water and Yaqui territory Tomás Rojo Valencia were presented this Monday afternoon, July 5. The prosecutor's office set the stage to present a close collaboration with the different levels of government involved in the investigations.

The prosecutor, Claudia Indira Contreras Cordova, read the contents of the investigation file. After showing all the segments of the process, she boasted the capture of one of the alleged perpetrators and announced the possible arrest of more people involved.

The prosecutor recognized at all times the transparent and indisputable leadership of Rojo Valencia as a defender of the territory and water of the Yaqui tribe. She said that in order to determine the motive for the murder, no line of investigation was ruled out, and then affirmed that the strongest line of investigation is that the Yaqui leader was killed by organized crime groups (outside of the tribe) who have taken control of the toll booths on the international highway that crosses Yaqui territory. She reports that the victim was negotiating the establishment of a toll booth in the territory, so that the toll revenues could be used for works benefiting the Yoreme people.

From this, the prosecutor surmises that these supposed efforts by Tomás bothered the bad guys and that is why they decided to eliminate him. It was President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who came up with the outlandish idea of installing a toll booth in the Yaqui territory, in one of his morning conferences in March of last year.

Those who were in close contact with Rojo Valencia during the entire process of the struggle to defend the waters of the Yaqui River know that the demand for the installation of a toll booth was not on his list of priorities.

Tomas' deployment to defend the tribe's existence, particularly during the last decade, was always more far-reaching. His homicide cannot be diluted in a petty dispute. His struggle was not against the criminal underworld, but rather against the criteria of a water policy that, seeing water as a commodity and as a lever for the projection of large real estate businesses, has not cared about affecting the indigenous communities and the social and productive processes linked to the general welfare.

Tomás, like other spokespersons of the tribe, together with the Citizens' Movement for Water and rural producers of southern Sonora, were able to identify the typification of these policies in the web of private financial interests that intend to appropriate the flows of the Yaqui River, diverting them to the city of Hermosillo with the illegal operation of the Independence Aqueduct.

At many times and in different scenarios, the Yaqui spokesman testified to his understanding of the strategic significance of this struggle. He always kept it as a priority in his resistance agenda. Rojo Valencia followed in detail and systematically the judicial processes in force against the operation of the aqueduct and its urban extension in the city of Hermosillo: the Acuaférico Oriente or North Branch.

He welcomed the Justice Plan for the Yaqui Peoples, ordered by the president, but until the last moment of his life, he kept a critical observation on the directors of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), who insist on using the benefits offered by the plan in exchange for the Yoremes to accept the imposition of the Independence Aqueduct.

The Yaqui spokesman knew that the Yoreme people, because of their history, because of their openness to social alliances, and because they were not willing to make any kind of alliance with the Yoreme people.

The Yaqui spokesman knew that the Yoreme people, because of their history, their openness to social alliances, their identity with the intention of Lázaro Cárdenas, contain, within their fragility, a powerful moral force to confront, in this case, those who want to keep the proverbial "lion's share", diverting the waters of the Yaqui River to other destinations and other uses.

In one of his last conversations, Tomás, with his usual suspicion, explained that the criminal underworld is commanded by interests that keep their necks white. It is evident that the motivations for this crime transcend the simple dispute over a toll booth in Yaqui territory.

Obregon City, Sonora, July 7, 2021

Translated with 

No comments: