PBI-Mexico celebrates Federal Court ruling that recognizes Indigenous Rarámuri community’s ancestral rights, annuls forestry permits

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: PBI-Mexico accompanied the Indigenous forest community supported by CONTEC when they blocked the Creel-San Rafael  highway for five hours on November 19, 2022, in a protest demanding legal recognition of their territory.

PBI-Mexico has posted: “PBI-Mexico celebrates the recognition of the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Rarámuri forest community of San Elías Repechike, in the Sierra Tarahumara, by a federal ruling that managed to obtain @CONTECAC #RightsIndigenousPeoples.”

El Heraldo de Chihuahua reports: “After six years of fighting for the ancestral recognition of the territory, San Elías Repechike wins the litigation and the federal judge orders the annulment of the forest harvesting permits granted to businessmen and individuals.”

The article adds: “The federal court recognizes that the Indigenous community is subject to the rights contained in the Federal Constitution and the agreements that the Mexican State has signed; the special relationship that they have with the land, and that indigenous property is based on the traditional use and possession of lands and resources, understood not only as physical occupation, but also activities of a permanent or seasonal nature and uses related to their culture.”

It further notes: “CONTEC, an organization that accompanies them in the legal process, pointed out that the resolution issued by the court does justice to this community that for more than 40 years has been demanding the recognition of its ancestral territory, facing all kinds of aggressions and looting of resources.”

Raichali adds: “The court [also] recognized the community’s right to a polygon of just over 11,415 hectares in the municipality of Bocoyna, Chihuahua, which it claims as an indigenous people through ancestral property, not as an ejido or agrarian community. …Currently, Mexican law provides for only two forms of collective ownership of land, the ejido and the agrarian community. This amparo holds the Mexican state responsible for omitting legislation that guarantees the indigenous community a different form of land ownership.”

And Expok News has previously reported: “The indigenous peoples are settled in an area of 11,300 hectares, and [because Mexican authorities have not recognized their rights] at least 65% of that area has already been handed over for forestry: 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.”

The Indigenous Rarámuri forest community of Bosques de San Elías Repechike is accompanied by the Community Technical Consultancy, A.C. (CONTEC). The full statement (dated February 13) by CONTEC on the implications of the court ruling (on February 2) can be read here.

PBI-Mexico has been providing punctual accompaniment to CONTEC since 2015. In February 2022, this accompaniment was formalized due to the increase in the level of risk faced by the organization.

On April 24, 2022, PBI-Canada hosted a webinar with CONTEC talking about the situation in Chihuahua. The video of that webinar is here.

Photo: On October 24-27, 2023, we also hosted Mariana Azucena Villarreal Frías of the Network in Defence of Indigenous Territories of Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI), in Ottawa along with PBI-Mexico advocacy coordinator Manuel Jabonero Prieto. CONTEC is a member of REDETI and Mariana highlighted the importance of recognition of ancestral territory at meetings with government officials, Members of Parliament and allies.

We extend our congratulations to the community and recognize their struggle for ancestral rights, based not only on physical occupation but traditional use. Photo from Netnoticias.mx.

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