Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 2, 2021

Mexico's President ignores and ejects Bacum Yaqui during unveiling of 'Justice Plan'

Yaqui Indians from Loma de Bacúm protest the recent disappearance of dozens of villagers during AMLO's event, from which they were excluded. Vicam, Sonora, September 28, 2021.

The 'Justice Plan' behind the fences and disappearances: Yaqui people of Loma de Bácum demand justice

Bacum Yaqui were uninvited and removed as Mexico's President presented his so-called 'Justice Plan,' in Vicam, Sonora. Bacum Yaqui are demanding the return of their kidnapped family members alive, and say the identification of remains by the government, of five of the ten men, is not credible. When they were kidnapped, they were serving as security for Bacum Pueblo, that is opposing the Sonora gas pipeline and mining in Sonora, south of the Arizona border. Bacum Yaqui said the President's 'Justice Plan' will not halt the theft of Yaqui River water for the City of Hermosillo.

October 1, 2021
By Grieta Collective
French translation by Christine Prat

Ignoring the current crisis of violence and insecurity that plagues the Yaqui people, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asks for forgiveness for the grievances and extermination attempts... of the Porfiriato, of the late 19th and early 20th Century.

In his visit to Vicam, Sonora, on September 28, Mexico's President inaugurated the so-called "Justice Plan of the Yaqui People" and asked for forgiveness for past grievances without mentioning the increase in murders, kidnappings and disappearances of members of the Yaqui people in recent months and ignoring the demands for justice of the inhabitants of Loma Bacúm, one of the 8 traditional Yaqui Pueblos.

This activity took place more than two months after ten Yaqui from Loma de Bácum were kidnapped and disappeared, without prompt and expeditious investigations to date. The members of the Yaqui people of Loma de Bácum, who today demand the return of their brothers and sisters alive, were not only excluded from the invitation to this historic event, but were even expelled from the event for demanding that the president present their relatives alive. Monica Valencia Flores, leader of the traditional guard of Loma de Bácum, was not even mentioned in the ceremony, even though she is a community authority of this town.

Relatives and friends of the disappeared arrived uninvited to the ceremony, headed by the president, carrying banners with photographs of the disappeared and demanding dialogue with the chief executive, but once again they were not heard. The Yaqui people of Loma de Bácum demand that new investigations be carried out to identify the bodies of the disappeared because, so far, the report of the state prosecutor's office showing supposed evidence of skeletal remains, found a few days ago, is neither congruent nor convincing for the relatives.

It should be recalled that the ten Yaquis who disappeared on July 14 in Loma de Bácum were doing surveillance and community security work when they were kidnapped.

They are Benjamín Portela, 65; Artemio Arballo, 60; Martín Hurtado, 53; Gustavo Acosta, 49; Heladio Molina, 44; Braulio Pérez, 40; Leocadio Galaviz, 38; Fabián Sombra, 34; Juan Justino Galaviz, 28; and Fabián Valencia, 27.....

The Yaqui Tribe's demand for justice has a long history of defending their territory against megaprojects. In recent years, the people have fought without restraint against the construction of the Independencia Aqueduct, which will not be cancelled in the Justice Plan, despite the fact that there is a collective claim against this infrastructure megaproject that began in 2010 as the cornerstone of the Sonora Integral System project, intended as the main source of water for the capital city of Hermosillo.

Despite the fact that the signing ceremony for the plan included a ceremony for the return of water to the Yaqui River, greetings to the sun and blessings to the animals and trees, this large-scale project against which the Yaqui people have been fighting for more than a decade, will not be interrupted by the so-called "Justice Plan," on the contrary, the plan contemplates among its agreements "the construction of a 158 kilometer aqueduct for water supply."

In spite of having been a cornerstone in the struggle against the Sonora Gas Pipeline, the Yaquis of Loma de Bacum were left out of the signing of the agreements in what seemed to be a silencing of any voice that could break the supposed idyll of the official ceremony.

In this region of the eight Yaqui villages there are 25 concessions granted to mining companies from Canada, the United States and Mexico that are in operation, according to the same Mining Cartography of the Mexican government's Ministry of Economy. But nothing was said about this during the president's last visit.

The resistance of the Yaqui peoples has had to face assassinations, threats, imprisonment and forced disappearances. Militarization has spread in an exacerbated way in the last years through this territory without violence and disappearances ceasing; on the contrary, they seem to increase in relation to the strong commercial interests that move in the region.

Perhaps the fact that the Yaqui people of Loma de Bácum have questioned the destruction and land grabbing by transnational companies and the construction of the megaproject in the making has something to do with their silencing. The demand for the appearance alive of their disappeared relatives and for justice questions the basis of what the president now wants to name as the "Justice Plan" in that region.

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