PBI-Mexico accompanies Indigenous Ódami peoples in the mountains of Chihuahua forcibly displaced by organized crime

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: In June 2022, PBI-Mexico accompanied a meeting of Indigenous Communities in Coloradas de la Virgen, Guadalupe and Calvo, Chihuahua with the objective of exchanging experiences on the defence of territory and natural resources.

On December 19, 2023, Raichali reported: “Faced with the unstoppable wave of displacement of entire communities in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, state and national civil society organizations, accompanied by Peace Brigades International (PBI), have carried out two humanitarian caravans in August and November of this year.”

Those visits took place on August 21-22 and November 28-29, 2023.

The following day, Raichali also reported: “Around 80 people from the Ódami people of Santa Tulita, from the Mala Noche community in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, in the mountains of Chihuahua, had to flee their land for a few days to save their lives, due to the presence of a criminal group that is dedicated to illegally cutting down the forest.”

Reuters has previously noted: “An academic at UNAM [the National Autonomous University of Mexico], Leticia Merino, estimates that 70% of the wood consumed in Mexico is illegal. [A report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime] found that drug traffickers involved in illegal logging have also been associated with deforestation and land theft, which often affect marginalized indigenous groups.”

January 4-5, 2024 visit

Now, on January 17 of this year, El Puntero also reports: “The Community Technical Consultancy (CONTEC), the Center for Women’s Human Rights (CEDEHM), the Collective of Psychosocial Practices (COPPSAC), Services for Peace (SERAPAZ), Peace Brigades International (PBI) and the Parish of Baborigame, made three visits to the community of Mala Noche in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, with the aim of addressing the situation of providing humanitarian aid and preventing the forced displacement of Ódames families and communities.”

That third visit was on January 4- 5, 2024.

On January 18, El Diario also highlighted: “In January 2024, in the town of Baborigame, organized civil society documented the violent events that have occurred in the community, where more than 150 people were forced to leave their homes, due to threats and the climate of violence that exists in the area.”

That article further notes: “From 2015 to 2023, 572 people in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo have had to leave their homes, after being victims of forced displacement by organized crime, according to information provided by various civil associations that accompany this sector of the population.”

Red TDT has previously highlighted: “Indigenous peoples of the region have denounced that illegal logging intensified since 2015. Currently, there has yet to be a comprehensive action plan to prevent illegal logging in the forests of the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua.”

The El Diario article then notes: “The families and communities that live in these areas of Chihuahua have the right to live in peace and tranquility, so the organizations call on the authorities to attend to and guarantee security, by installing a safeguard with permanent security personnel in the region, so that the communities can return to their homes and thus prevent more people from continuing to be victims of displacement.”

With respect to “permanent security personnel in the region”, Raichali has provided the context and concern: “As in other cases of forced displacement of entire indigenous communities, Rarámuri and Ódami, in the same municipality, the authorities promised to provide them with protection, but they [the communities] fear that it will be temporary, as has happened, and that the violence will return with greater fury.”

The need for recognition of ancestral territory

PBI-Mexico has previously noted that the main causes of the issues faced by the Indigenous communities “are related to economic interests surrounding tourism projects, legal and illegal exploitation of forests, real estate and energy projects such as mining, pipelines and the presence of organized crime.”

The Network in Defense of Indigenous Territories of Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI) has also highlighted: “The lack of legal recognition of ancestral lands is one of the causes of the dispossession of the Indigenous peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara.”

On October 24-29, 2023, PBI-Canada hosted Mariana Azucena Villarreal Frías of REDETI, along with Manuel Jabonero from PBI-Mexico, who highlighted these issues at numerous meetings with officials in Ottawa.

We continue to follow this situation with concern.

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