PBI-Canada seeks meeting with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada on MOU with Mexico

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: “Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Minister Melanie Joly signed an MOU for the protection of the native peoples of Mexico and Canada” on January 12, 2023. At the same time, the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs of Canada (CIRNAC) and the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) of the United Mexican States (Mexico) appear to have signed this MOU.

Mariana Azucena Villarreal Frías of the Network in Defense of Indigenous Territories of Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI) will be in Ottawa next week (October 24-29). She will be accompanied by Manuel Jabonero from the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project.

Photo: Prior to coming to Ottawa, Mariana and Manuel are meeting with Senators and members of the US Congress in Washington, DC.

REDETI is made up of thirteen Raramuri and Ódami communities and three organizations, including the PBI-Mexico accompanied CONTEC.

REDETI supports these communities to achieve legal recognition of their ancestral territories in the Sierra Tarahumara region in the state of Chihuahua and self-determination over the natural resources on those lands.

Photo: This Tuesday October 24 will mark the 5th anniversary of the killing of Raramuri land defender Julian Carrillo who resisted illegal logging and the mining concession granted to Vancouver-based Evrim Resources/Orogen Royalties.

REDETI believes the situation for Indigenous peoples in the Sierra Tarahumara would be improved through four key actions:

1- Reform of the Law on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Mexican Peoples

Holland & Knight has explained: “On April 20, 2021, the House of Deputies of Mexico voted on, and approved, a bill to enact the General Law of Consultation of Indigenous and Black Mexican People’s Law and submitted the proposed bill to the Senate for review and voting. The purpose of the law is to establish the right to prior consultation in favor of indigenous and Black Mexican people and communities in the face of governmental measures that may affect such groups, their ways of life, their social, political, economic and cultural organization, and the integrity of their lands, territories and natural resources.”

The civil society organization Fundar (Analysis and Research Center) has also noted: “In 2021, as part of ALDEA [the Alliance for Free Determination and Autonomy], we were successful in getting our recommendations included in the initiative of the General Law of Consultation of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Peoples and Communities. Even though it still has room for improvement, the approval by the Chamber of Deputies of this initiative has been a crucial step toward respecting and guaranteeing the right to the prior, free, and informed consent from Indigenous peoples and communities toward continuing to promote the Indigenous Constitutional Reform.”

REDETI says that the Law should acknowledge full autonomy and self-determination for Indigenous peoples over their ancestral territories and uphold the right to free, prior and informed consent established in ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, both of which Mexico has endorsed.

2- Passage of the Law to Prevent, Attend to, and Provide Reparations for Forced Internal Displacement

In September 2020, the lower house of Mexico’s Congress passed the Law to Prevent, Attend to, and Provide Reparations for Forced Internal Displacement.

The Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) has also noted: “On September 29th, 2021, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the bill for the General Law on Forced Internal Displacement and passed it for the review of the Senate. Pilot programs have begun to support internally displaced families.”

In October 2022, PBI-United Kingdom commented: “Following her visit to Mexico in September, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons urged the Mexican government to legislate human rights guarantees for internally displaced persons and to allocate adequate funding for their protection and durable solutions. PBI echoes CONTEC’s call for the law to be passed, for the Mexican government to properly resource its implementation, and for the international community to support those human rights defenders currently risking their lives to support the victims of enforced displacement.”

The passage of the law would provide guarantees for the rights of internally displaced persons and create a national mechanism to explicitly address forced internal displacement.

3- Approval of an Action Plan to Stop Illegal Logging in Chihuahua

REDETI has asked Mexico to approve an Integral Action Plan to Stop Logging in Chihuahua (Plan de Acción Integral para Frenar la Tala en Chihuahua).

The National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations “All Rights for All” (Red TDT) in Mexico has highlighted: “It is urgent to stop illegal logging in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua due to environmental damage, forced internal displacement, murders and multiple and irreparable violations of human rights such as autonomy, self-determination, and free, prior and informed consultation.”

They have demanded that Mexico “develop a comprehensive action plan to stop illegal logging in the Sierra Tarahumara”, take “urgent actions to stop illegal logging immediately, such as the implementation of permanent operations, the review of timber processing centers and illegal timber commercialization networks”, and to ensure “that displaced persons’ right to a dignified and safe return to their communities be guaranteed.”

4- Respond to IACHR requests for information on cases in the Sierra Tarahumara

REDETI has also urged Mexico to respond to requests for information on pending cases from communities in the Sierra Tarahumara.

The REDETI website notes: “Given the lack of security conditions and the violence generated in Choréachi in February 2014, the IACHR was asked to provide collective precautionary measures for the community and for the staff of Alianza Sierra Madre A.C. (ASMAC), which accompanies the legal proceedings before the courts. In October 2015, the IACHR decided to grant the request for precautionary measures in favor of Prudencio Ramos Ramos (nephew of Socorro Ayala Ramos) and Ángela Ayala Ramos (widow of Jaime Zubias Ceballos).”

The IACHR describes itself as “a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.” The Government of Canada has noted: “After 28 years as an observer, Canada became a member of the OAS on January 8, 1990.”

Photo: PBI and REDETI at the OAS in Washington, DC this past week.

Canada-Mexico Memorandum of Understanding

In January 2023, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly signed an MoU on Indigenous rights with Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.

The National Indigenous Times reports: “Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly signed the bilateral agreement to modernise cooperation on addressing issues facing Indigenous communities.”

Global Affairs Canada also highlights: “Canada and Mexico recognize the opportunity to jointly build platforms to allow Indigenous Peoples to share best practices, lessons learned, and address common issues in building inclusive societies with Indigenous communities that favour self-reliance, prosperity, and well-being in the region to achieve social justice.”

At the same time, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada also appears to have signed this Memorandum of Understanding on Indigenous rights with the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, the governmental authority on matters related to Indigenous and Afro-Mexican people in Mexico.

Seeking meeting

While PBI-Canada has been able to schedule a meeting with Global Affairs Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has not yet replied to our email (dated October 11, 2023) requesting a meeting to discuss the Memorandum. We continue to seek this meeting between REDETI and CIRNAC.

Photo: PBI-Mexico accompanied a REDETI convened gathering of Indigenous Rarámuri and Ódami communities in the Sierra Tarahumara on October 6-8, 2023.

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