Yaqui Tribal Authority’s Jailing in Water Conflict Signals Need to Implement Environmental Justice

Source: Americas Program

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico — The Sept. 11 jailing of Yoeme (Yaqui) Traditional Tribal Secretary Mario Luna Romero was a wake-up call for environmental and human rights defenders globally.

Symptomatic of escalating repression against indigenous community members who refuse to conform with free trade’s increasing demand for resources, Luna’s arrest on allegedly false charges sparked widespread grassroots response and highlighted the imperative of forging a united front against further abuses of environmental activists.

The most visible leader of the Yoeme resistance to Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías illegal aqueduct construction project to divert Yaqui River water from its rightfully entitled users in the tribe’s eight villages, Luna immediately declared himself a political prisoner.

Luna was detained in the Yoeme village of Vicam and incarcerated in a Hermosillo federal penitentiary after returning to Sonora from a visit across the border state to Arizona.

He was brought to hearing Sept. 17, exactly one month after members and supporters of the Yoeme water rights struggle caravanned to the community of San Salvador Atenco outside Mexico City to participate in the National Gathering in Defense of the Land, Water and Life.

About 100 organizations represented there declared: “In the last 30 years, institutional powers and the powers behind them have carried out a systematic dismantling of the State and of the legal framework in Mexico. A series of reforms to the Constitution and laws of a structural character have been imposed, as well as the ratification and the strengthening of free trade agreements, which have destroyed the norms that permit the peoples to defend the social fabric and community life.”

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