Valley of the Yaqui
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, Los de Abajo
La Jornada, May 14th, 2014
The order suspending the operation of the Independence Aqueduct, a work through which the government of Sonora aims to dispossess 75 million cubic metres of water from the Yaqui tribe and the farmers in the Yaqui Valley, which was dictated by the eighth district court, is an important legal step for the protection of the water, but still does not signify its final cancellation. Mario Luna, Yaqui authority, says the decision is neither negotiable nor open for discussion, and it must be fulfilled.
The history of grievances against the tribe is large, says Luna, so that if, once the notifications are completed, the work does not stop immediately, both the Yaqui and the rest of the Citizens Movement for the Defence of Water would have to look at the possibility of resuming demonstrations of civil disobedience, such as the blocking of the International Highway, which they maintained from June 2013 to April 2014. For the Yaqui the defence of water is not negotiable. You do not, they say, play with life. Nor with this ancient culture which depends on the vital liquid for its survival. In this desert area of southern Sonora, already thirsty, the government of Guillermo Padres Elias has been building, since 2010, the Independence Aqueduct, 145 miles long, to bring water to Hermosillo, where it is not needed for human consumption, but to supply large companies.
Since the announcement of the work, the Yaqui have followed a legal process of amparo (orders for legal protection) and constitutional challenges, along with the formation of a movement of 20 thousand farmers in the Yaqui Valley, who, with the aqueduct, will see 222,000 hectares of different crops, mainly wheat, (they currently harvest 40 percent of the national production of this grain) severely affected. The citizen movement is also made up of students, academics, businessmen and housewives, in a community of one million people.
The recent legal ruling in favour of the Yaqui says that the operation of the aqueduct, which legally should not have begun construction, should be suspended while the legitimacy of the titles allocation granted to the municipality of Hermosillo is resolved. Its definitive cancellation is the goal and the reason to keep fighting, says Luna. At this time, says the Yaqui authority, “there are so many omissions, and with all the accumulated grievances, the process cannot endure one more act of contempt. We think that in a week at the latest they must fulfil the decision of the eighth court.” If they do not, he says, “the Yaqui will stop the negotiations.” Next Thursday they will assess the issue and call on the other members of the movement and of society to decide their future actions.
Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 15/02/2014