Mexican Activists and Intellectuals Ask for Release of Indigenous Leader, Mario Luna

La Jornada, 23 September, 2014, Alfredo Méndez

Historian Adolfo Gilly speaks at forum seeking release of Yaqui leader Mario Luna Photo: Carlos Ramos Mamahua

Historian Adolfo Gilly speaks at forum seeking release of Yaqui leader Mario Luna
Photo: Carlos Ramos Mamahua

Activists, intellectuals and human rights advocates led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas gathered together yesterday in order to demand the immediate release of Mario Luna, a leader of the Yaqui tribe, which is opposed to the Independence Aqueduct; Luna was arrested on September 11 in Obregón City, Sonora. The activists and intellectuals were participating in a forum called Solidarity with the Yaqui People and for Mario Luna’s Release, held onMonday at the Museum of the City of Mexico.

Historian Adolfo Gilly said that from the moment Enrique Peña Nieto was announced as the PRI candidate for president, “it was generally expected that we would eventually see a barrage of power against the people,” what academic communities have identified as the “Atenco method.”

MV Note: This refers to how, in May 2006, state and federal police responded when San Salvador Atenco residents, in the State of Mexico, blocked the highway to Texcoco, adjacent to Mexico City, after flower vendors reached out to Atenco residents in response to police preventing vendors from selling at the Texcoco local market. Peña Nieto was governor and ordered the police action. The confrontations were very violent. A National Human Rights Commission report called attention to the excessive use of force and firearms by state and federal police in the confrontations. The report found that more than 200 people were victims of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, more than 140 were arbitrarily arrested and more than 20 women were victims of sexual assault.

Alberto Patishtán, an indigenous leader of the Tzotzil tribe who was imprisoned for more than 13 years and who was pardoned by President Peña Nieto, stated that authorities are behaving in a perverse manner and are capable of concocting crimes in order to arrest indigenous leaders and activists who are merely defending their territories.

Poet Javier Sicilia, from the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity [MPJD], said that currently there are political prisoners all over the country, including Mario Luna in Sonora and José Manuel Mireles, former leader of the self-defence groups in Michoacán.

He added that abuses against the Yaqui tribe on the part of the Sonora government show a failure to comply with the San Andrés Accords and are clear evidence of a violation of Article II of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Cárdenas said it is an expropriation by the federal government that comes from its desire to “replace the reservoir and hand over the land.” The former candidate for president added, “We are here to petition for Mario Luna’s freedom. There are clear political overtones for his detention; there is no reason or justification to suggest his arrest was anything other than a crime. It is clearly a political act, a repressive one, because of the demands the tribe and many others in Sonora are making."

César Cota, chief of the Yaqui tribe, railed against the governor of Sonora, Guillermo Padrés, for having built a private reservoir on his property. Cota said that the politician cannot govern only part of the state, but must include all municipalities. He stressed that Padrés is stealing water allocated to the Yaqui tribe by means of the Independence Aqueduct.

In turn, Gilly pleaded for the Mexican people to not allow themselves to be subjugated by the political class. In front of members of the Yaqui tribe, he declared, “From here, from the steps of the Museum of the City of Mexico, I demand the immediate release of Mario Luna. I demand respect for the waters that do not belong to the lords of power and money.”

Finally, Alberto Vizcarra, director of the Citizens’ Movement for Water in Obregón City, said that what is in dispute is the management of water and the criteria that will be used to distribute it throughout Mexico.

Translated by Danielle M. Antonetti


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