Monday, May 23, 2016

UNPFII 2016: Intervention of Mario Luna Romero, Yaqui Tribe, Sonora, Mexico

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 
15th Session  May 9-19, 2016   UN Headquarters  New York, NY
Item 9 (b) Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and President of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
Intervention by Mario Luna Romero, Yaqui Tribe

May 16, 2016

Good day to all present, good day Madam Rapporteur, good day to all members of the Permanent Forum.

My name is Mario Luna Romero, I come on behalf of my people, the Yaqui People of Sonora, Mexico; an ancient people that refuses to disappear, an Indigenous People that continues to resist the onslaught of racist government policies which seek to rob our ancestral territories from we who are survivors; survivors of mass government deportation campaigns and a continuous state of war for over two hundred years in the recent past.

Despite having survived the mass deportations of children and women from the early 1900s until 1910, having endured government bombing airstrikes against the defenders of our territorial integrity as Yaqui People in the 20s; today we still face the same lust for plunder by state programs designed from a government desk that reflects contempt for the life of our peoples in order to promote since 2010 from the spheres of government the redistribution of volumes of water from our Yaqui River regardless of the fact that this government action divests this vital liquid from the Rio Yaqui in order to to benefit another region that has greater technological and economic capacity.

Contrary to what one might imagine my people have exhausted all domestic institutional remedies granted by the Mexican state to defend our human right to water and life, to the extent that our legal appeals have reached to the Supreme Court of the nation where we were granted validation of our case, with a corresponding order in recognition of our rights as Yaqui Peoples to be respected and granted through consultations based on international standards of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in Good Faith.

Nevertheless, this order from the highest level of the judicial system in Mexico so far has not been fully complied with. Government institutions responsible for applying the mandatory consultation process have been remiss in their actions and for the most part have demonstrated the tendency to take the consultation as a mere technical requirement in order to purportedly validate the dispossession of our ancestral rights, our constitutional rights, and our human rights to the waters of the Yaqui River, a river that gives origin to our name and historically articulates our community existence.

It should be added that in a clarifying decree requested by Mexican institutions to the Supreme Court, it was specified that in terms of procedures of evidence, denunciation, or effects regarding the Independence Aqueduct project, should the availability of water to which the Yaqui People are entitled by right be irreparably affected by the pipeline, that the project should be cancelled and suspended regardless of whatever phase it is in the ordered process of consultation.

To resolve this point and as part of the consultation process, SEMARNAT, CONAGUA and we as Yaqui People people requested the INAH to conduct an expert survey in order to determine the impact of the construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct project which we challenge as Yaqui People. This specialized institution determined and published publically the findings that the operation of the Independence Aqueduct serious affects our present and future water availability and more even recommended the immediate cancellation of the work.

Given the negative results of this expert report, the Mexican state has remained silent and only continues to advance on the requirement to fulfill the consultation processes while allowing the project to maintain its minimum operations regardless of the fact that this is a violation of the rule of law.  At the same time the government is allowing the operations to continue without the required environmental impact statement, thus leaving we Yaqui Peoples without domestic recourse of defense, we Yaqui Peoples who only demand full compliance with the laws that government representatives in turn vowed to implement and enforce.

As it is evident that the Mexican state has not satisfied the clear demand of our Yaqui People for respect and justice, we believe it is necessary for your intervention Madam Rapporteur so that soon you may observe personally and on the ground, the facts of the issues we here present to the opinion of this honorable assembly. With the understanding that failure to take in hand the situation in question would allow for repetition of a pattern acts of arrogance and state impunity such as the criminalization of protest and selective enforcement of laws against our defenders of the Yaqui River.

I just want to add that there is already precedent with the Inter American Human Rights Commission on the degree of risk which our spokesmen and human rights activists of the Yaqui people are now targets, a fact that has resulted already in the issuance of  more than six precautionary measures for key activists and in the same manner, the CNDH has issued recommendations to the government of Mexico not to repeat its actions in violation of the rights of Fernando Jimenez and Mario Luna both of whom were imprisoned for more than a year without having proof of any crime committed whatsoever.

Translation: TONATIERRA

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