PBI-Mexico attends highway blockade by Rarámuri community demanding its territorial rights

Published by Brent Patterson on

El Pueblo reports: “On Sunday, August 8, and within the framework of the International Day of the Indigenous Peoples, the Rarámuri forest community of San Elías Repechique, municipality of Bocoyna, held a peaceful protest in which they intermittently closed the Creel – San Rafael highway in front of the Creel regional airport.”

“There they demanded that they be legally recognized the territory of which they have ancestral possession, territory that was sold and titled to private individuals.”

That article adds: “This protest was joined by the communities of Mogótavo, Cuiteco and Tewerichi, also calling for an end to the criminalization of Indigenous communities and was attended by Peace Brigades International (PBI).”

The Community Technical Consultancy (CONTEC), an organization that supports Indigenous communities in the Sierra Tarahumara in the state of Chihuahua, adds:

“The community has suffered countless damages, among which are the cutting down of its forests, the lawsuits against its authorities, the contamination of water sources, the cancellation of sidewalks and the use of its territory for the construction of projects for public use without being taken into account.”

Additionally, the Sierra Madre Alliance (ASMAC) has stated: “[We] recognize the work in defense of its territory and natural assets of the Rarámuri community, San Elías Repechique, located in the municipality of Bocoyna and of the Community Technical Consultancy, an organization that accompanies it.”

“The community defends its right to recognition of the territory peacefully occupied by its ancestors and present generations. They defend the right to use and enjoy their natural assets in line with their culture. Therefore, the community has embarked on a long road to demand respect for its territorial rights.”

The ASMC statement highlights: “In 2014 the community won a lawsuit against the construction of the Creel Airport. The ruling recognizes the rights derived from the ancestral possession of the community in the 11,400 hectares.”

“For this reason, in 2017 a Trust was formed by the community and the State Government to carry out productive projects of collective benefit. As part of this ruling, the community decided to develop a project for a sewing workshop that began to be built in April 2020. Just a month later, members of the community who were building the workshop were harassed by agents of the prosecutor’s office in the western area. Thus, the criminal complaint against Rarámuri Teresa Gonzalez, as the person in charge of the workshop, became known.”

“After two visits by the police intimidating the women of the workshop, in August 2020 a strong operation was implemented and 50 people were arrested, including girls, boys and the elderly, in addition to the detention, they established security measures for the workshop, preventing its construction. It was through the promotion of an injunction presented by the community and granted by the district court in December that the measure was withdrawn until April by the Public Ministry.”

The full ASMAC statement can be read here.

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