PBI-Mexico accompanies CONTEC at blockade as Indigenous community seeks recognition of ancestral territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Mexico has posted: “On Sunday, August 8, Peace Brigades International (PBI) accompanied the organization Consultoría Técnica Comunitaria AC (CONTEC) in the peaceful mobilization convened by the Raramuri forest community of San Elias Repechique, to which members of the communities of Mogotavo, Cuiteco and Tewerichi also came.”

It highlights: “This population demands legal recognition of its ancestral territory, denouncing criminalization towards indigenous communities.”

El Pueblo reports: “[The forest community] 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.”

Pagina 3 explains: “For the Rarámuri, [it is] their ancestral territory, which they know as Bosques de San Elías Repechique [but] for the Cuesta family, it is the Pino Gordo Estate, which they acquired through a purchase-sale contract.”

In August 2020, businessman Fernando Cuesta filed a complaint against the Rarámuri community for dispossession, environmental damage and theft.

CONTEC, which accompanies the community, has noted that when Porfirio Díaz (the Mexican president for most years between 1876 to 1911) sold 85,000 hectares of the territory, the deeds specified they were inhabited by Indigenous peoples.

After the Mexican Revolution and the land reform provisions of the 1917 Constitution, 33,000 hectares of this territory were still considered private property and not recognized as ejidal (communal) lands.

CONTEC further notes that more than 40 years ago, businessmen from the region acquired 12 properties (just over 11,500 hectares) despite the land being occupied by the community of San Elías Repechique.

The Pino Gordo property, that Cuestra claims, covers just over 2,500 hectares.

The Indigenous community has challenged the construction of the Barrancas del Cobre-Creel Regional Airport on their ancestral territory, the Transportadora de Gas Natural pipeline through their forests, and now extensive logging on their lands.

ExpokNews notes: “The indigenous peoples are settled in an area of 11,300 hectares, and at least 65% of that area has already been handed over for forest use: the private owners requested the extraction permits and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources granted them, again without consulting the Indigenous peoples who are settled there.”

Since 2018, the community of San Elías Repechique has been requesting that its territory be recognized as Indigenous Rarámuri territory, not as an ejido, since their way of understanding the territory is different.

This would require a change to Article 27 of the Constitution.

Notably, Mexico’s participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and the United States required that Article 27 be modified to permit the privatization and the sale of ejidal lands.

We continue to follow this situation.

Categories: News Updates

1 Comment

Esmeralda Orellana · August 14, 2021 at 4:17 pm

Me gustaría ser parte del voluntariado

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