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Why they fight

27 August 2013

Without our land, we cease to be a people. Our lands and identities are critical to our lives, our waters, our forests, our culture, our global commons, our territories. For us, the struggle for our territories and our commons and our natural resources is of primary importance to preserve ourselves as a people.

I am glad to see the plight of the Honduran Garifuna people receiving attention. As with other cultural minorities in Latin America, their rights to their land and resources is being threatened by outsiders eager for natural resources (in the Garifuna region, the land is wanted for growing palm oil) and political forces find rationales to sell this to the outside world.

Closer to home here, the Yaquí nation… which has a long history of resistance to the state (it fought a number of wars against both the Spanish colonial forces and the Mexican government, including the last major “Indian uprising” in North America, in the 1920s) to preserve their historic farming communities. While the 19th and 20th century wars were for control of the land for cotton production, today’s battles are over something even more basic… water.

Like the Garifuna, the Yaquí are under a triple threat from attempts to control resources, the international narcotics trade and tourism.

The City of Hermosillo has quadrupled in size in the last few years “thanks” to NAFTA giving a huge boost to corporate agriculture at the expense of the Mexican rural economy, refugees Flag_of_the_Yaqui_tribefrom the narcotics “war” and the growth in Pacific Coastal tourism and the service industry associated with that growth, is short of water. Always a precious resource in northern Mexico, the city … DESPITE a ruling from the Mexican Supreme Court recognizing the legitimacy of the Yaquí Tribe’s claims to water from the Yaquí River (going back to the treaties signed in the 1930s ending 400 years of tribal warfare) … has been going ahead with building an aqueduct that will effectively cut the flow of the Yaquí river to a trickle. Even now, with the water the city is (illegally) taking from the River, the Yaquí are left with only sewage runoff to water their crops… and obviously, cannot sell and are reluctant to even feed to their livestock.

The Yaquí have their reasons, and … presumably… the State of Sonora has theirs.  The situation being at an impass, and on-and-off highway blockades around Hermosillo having only gained some attention, I expect there will be large protests in Sonora, and at least some in Mexico City and elsewhere around the Republic.  Whether there are international protests  I can’t say.  However, given that there will likely be some protests… and they are planned as scattered protests, one should at least be aware of what it is the Yaquí and their supporters are saying.
yaqui_manThe Mexican state via their official and criminal institutions, hand-in-hand with the large capitalists, has begun a war against the indigenous communities, trying to evict them from the native lands, and deprive them of their resources. A clear example is the despoliation of the Yaqui Tribe in the Mexican State of Sonora, by means of the so-called mega-project “Acueducto Independencia”, which will extract 75 million cubic meters of water a year of the Yaqui River. Even in the test phase of the project, it has already caused serious damage to Yaquí lands, altering the ecological balance and leaving the tribe without water.

In light of this situation, we are calling for an International Day of Protest Against Acueducto Independecia for 30 August 2013.

Places: The Federal District offices of the State of Sonora:  Paseo de Las Palmas No.1005, Col. Lomas de Chapultepec

… and on public plaza, in the streets and wherever your imagination takes you.

We also propose you protest outside Mexican consulates or representations in other countries.

In order to demonstrate your solidarity with the Yaqui Tribe, send, videos, audio, photographs, etc. to demonstrate to the great capitalists and their allies that the role of the government is to return to the Yaquí Tribe the water that belongs to them

Send your material to:

More information at

One Comment leave one →
  1. Práxedis permalink
    5 September 2013 12:09 pm

    Hermano, creo que Yaqui no lleva acento, el énfasis es en la “a”…

    pero excelente artículo!

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