Grassroots Bulletin on Sustainable Development in Northwest Mexico
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Yaqui Tribe Denounces Corrupt Government
Plans to Commit Largest Expropriation Of All Time

bandera yaqui

AUGUST 25, 2011

To all the peoples of the world.
To all of humanity.
To the Mexican people.
To all indigenous brothers and sisters.
To all partisan and nonpartisan forces in struggle

The greatest theft is being perpetrated against the Yaqui people and our ability to produce food
at this very moment on Mexican soil, in the state of  Sonora, within Yaqui territory. These actions are being orchestrated by Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Sonora governor Guillermo Padrés Elias.

With their plans to build the “Acueducto Independencia” that will take water from El Novillo, one of the intermediate dams in the Río Yaqui Basin water system that also includes the La Angostura and El Oviachic dams, they continue one of the longest wars in world history against the indigenous peoples of Mexico and, more specifically, against our Yaqui tribe.

This flagrantly violates the judicial rulings issued by an agrarian tribunal which found against the aqueduct project, and in favor of the Yaqui growers and their demand for a protection order and restitution of water. The ruling also granted protection of constitutional guarantees through an emergency stop-work order.

The ruling in favor of the Yaqui Valley agriculturalists, issued last August 14 by a district judge and upheld by an appelate court, ordered that work on the aqueduct be stopped. The ruling affirmed that the government of Guillermo Padrés Elias is in contempt.

Because of the corrupt state government’s demonstrated contempt and abuse of authority, just hours ago District Judge No. 8 issued a 24-hour stay against the state’s highest office in order to halt the construction of the Acueducto Independencia and reestablish the rule of law.  If work did not stop, the police could be called in to enforce the order.

In answer to the ruling, Padés Elias issued his familiar, oft quoted phrase: “nothing and no one will stop the construction of the Acueducto Independencia.”  At the same time, he has avoided acknowledging the order by using delaying tactics to postpone its delivery to him for a as long as possible.  Today, he cannot be found at his office.

The Mexican government, and more specifically Felipe Calderón and Guillermo Padrés Elias, acting as the agents of powerful foreign business interests, remains exposed to negative local, regional, national and worldwide public opinion because of the disregard and violation of Mexican laws, conventions and treaties. One such violation is that of Convention 169 of the ILO (UN International Labor Organization [link =]) on the rights of indigenous and tribal people.  In our role as representatives of the tribe, we utilized this  instrument to fight the environmental impact statement that SEMARNAT (the Secretary of the Environment) and its Secretary in Charge, José Luís Luegue Tamargo, approved in favor of the construction of the aqueduct. This is a flagrant violation of the human rights law protecting employment and development rights of indigenous people.

Under these conditions of low-intensity warfare, both the federal and state governments, acting as agents of big capital and transnational corporations, are once again planning to commit the largest expropriation in history by taking from us our water, a natural and national resource belonging to everyone, and to the Yaqui Tribe, this right having been granted by presidential decree in 1940.

They want to change water from a raw material and means by which a people develop, and food is produced, into a private resource subject to the whims of a speculative market.

It is for this reason that we, the Yaqui Tribe and Sonoran civil society (as represented by various organizations) from seven municipalities in the state, wish to reassert democracy and the rule of law in order to impede the commission of one of the most unjust acts in recent history.  Therefore, we are forming a civil brigade to stop and dismantle the aqueduct through legal channels and acts of resistance and peaceful civil disobedience.

As representatives of the Yaqui tribal governments of Vícam and Potam, primary and secondary seats of the Yaqui tribe, we are not going to allow more injustices to be committed against our people.

We will assert our ancestral legitimacy as indigenous peoples of these arid regions as well as our historical rights.

We, tribal authorities and members of the Yaqui Tribe, swear to defend the earth and water.

“The struggle for autonomy and self-determination are inalienable principles of the Yaqui tribe.”

“Never again a Mexico without us.”


Yaqui Tribal Authorities
Editor’s note: After reaching a consensus and releasing this statement, the Yaquis protested along the highway and district judges ordered the work be stopped—but to no avail.

Opposing the expropriation: Yaqui tribal members Mario Luna and daughter. (Photo: Gloria Abdala)

Yaqui Nation flag (