Mexico: Sonora hosts indigenous encuentro

The town of Vicam in the northwestern Mexico state of Sonora was the site of the Meeting of Indigenous Peoples of America, which brought together some 1,500 representatives of indigenous groups from the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America starting on Oct. 11 and continuing through Oct. 12. Organizers said misinformation from the government and media had put obstacles in the way of the meeting; they had been afraid it might have to be moved.

Representatives from the US discussed the continuing imprisonment of activist Leonard Peltier and denounced the development of casinos on reservations. Mexican activists compared the casinos to projects by the National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples (CDI), calling Xochitl Galvez, who headed the CDI during the administration of former president Vicente Fox Quesada (2000-2006), the “engineer” of cooptation and division of indigenous people from the southern states of Chiapas to northern states like Sonora and Coahuila. Former political prisoner Julio Sandoval cited murderous attacks on his people, the Triqui of the southern state of Oaxaca. Many Triqui have fled to Mexico City, to San Quintin valley in Baja California Sur, to Sonora and to the US. Sandoval himself now lives in exile in Baja California. (La Jornada, Oct. 13)

On Sept. 27 hundreds of members of the Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) marched in Oaxaca city to demand that the State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) step up investigations into the disappearance of MULT members Virginia and Daniela Ortiz Ramirez on July 5. Their family says they were kidnapped by members of a rival group, MULT-Independent. The state government has done little to find them, according to Emelia Ortiz Garcia, the disappeared women’s cousin. She charged that when she asked prosecutor Evencio Nicolas Martinez Ramirez for help, he told her: “You can go search for your family in the whole region, if you want. I’ll even applaud you if you do that.” (LJ, Sept. 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 14

See our last posts on Mexico, the Indigenous Encuentro, and the struggle in Oaxaca.