Sunday, July 9, 2017

Home of Yaqui Leader Mario Luna Attacked

Attack on the home of Mario Luna, Secretary of Vicam Pueblo, Yaqui Tribe

Vícam, Sonora – Mexico

Mario Luna Romero, an indigenous leader of the Yaqui Tribe, was targeted by an assault early on June 27 when the car of his companion, Victoria Anahí Ochoa Domínguez, was set on fire at dawn. Ministerial police agents contacted by Mario established that the fire was due to a device made with a glass bottle filled with gasoline, wrapped in clothes, which was ignited and placed under the car. The complaint was made public by SERAPAZ (Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz) in a statement issued on July 6.

Here is the text of the statement:

Mario Luna, one of the indigenous leaders of the Yaqui Tribe in the northwestern state of Sonora, suffered an attack along with his family. The aggression is part of a series of harassment actions in retaliation by the opposition of Yaqui communities to the functioning of an aqueduct that puts their access to water and their survival as an indigenous people at risk. Although Mario Luna formally counts on formal measures of protection measures by federal and state authorities, these are inadequate and insufficient since they have not stopped the aggressions against him. Urgent measures of protection and investigation are requested.
The facts:

On June 27, 2017, around 5am, Victoria Anahí Ochoa Domínguez, a companion of Mario Luna Romero, noticed her car start to burn in the backyard of her home in the town of Vicam, Sonora state. With the help of a relative she managed to put out the fire moments later. Mario Luna reported the incident immediately to the Mechanism of Protection for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, of which he is a beneficiary. Representatives of the Mechanism assured him that state police would come to his aid, but the aid never arrived. Given the lack of response, Mario Luna sought local police officers for assistance home, and convinced the local police to visit his home. After a brief investigation, the agents established that one or more people had entered the patio of the house by jumping the perimeter fence. They also stated that the fire was due to a device made with a gas-filled glass bottle, wrapped in clothing, which was turned on and placed under the car. Moments later, the ministerial police left of the house of Mario Luna affirming that the denunciation had been registered.

The state response since June 27:

To date, authorities have not implemented sufficient and adequate measures to ensure the safety of Mario Luna and his family. Despite the promise of the Mechanism of Protection on the morning of June 27, the promised police protection has not yet arrived at to his guard his home. Mario Luna continues with the same measures he had before June 27, despite the fact that he had informed the Protection Mechanism of Protection and the authorities in Sonora that the Mechanisms of Protection were insufficient. On June 30 and July 3 Mario Luna was received by federal and state authorities, respectively, yet these meetings have n not resulted in any concrete consequences. There is obvious lack of coordination between federal and state authorities.

The Attorney General of the State of Sonora has registered the complaint, but so far there are no concrete results in the investigation.

Context and background:

Mario Luna is one of the leaders of the Yaqui Tribe, which is located in the State of Sonora, northwest Mexico. He serves as secretary of the traditional authority of the Vicam Pueblo and performs the work of interlocutor between traditional and official authorities. Mario Luna has had a prominent role in the defense of the collective rights of the Yaqui Tribe in the context of the resistance to construction of the Independencia Aqueduct, which diverts water from the Yaqui River to the Sonora River. The diversion considerably reduces access to drinkable water for the consumption of Yaqui communities, as well as the water needed to irrigate their crops. Mario Luna has been actively following up the actions of the Yaqui Tribe before the government authorities, media, civil society organizations and international organizations including the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The public call has repeatedly been made for the government of Mexico to protect Mario Luna and his family since April 2016.

Four days before the attack, on June 23, Mario Luna and the traditional authorities of the Vicam Pueblo delivered a document of response to a request from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) in the context of the execution of the Order of Protection judgment regarding the operation of the aqueduct. The document constitutes an important development in the context of the legal proceedings regarding the challenge to the Independencia Aquaduct by the Yaqui Tribe, since it shows that CONAGUA is attempting to conduct a supposed “indigenous consultation” at a far away distance from the territory of the Yaqui Tribe, which among other irregularities makes evident the policy of the agency to violate the right to Consultation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

In May 2018 Mario Luna participated and took the floor at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.  Also since May 2017, he serves on the Indigenous Governing Council of Mexico - Concejo Indígena de Gobierno Mexico installed by the Congreso Nacional Indígena (CNI), which is now organizing an independent campaign during the presidential elections of 2018.

In January of 2017 Anahí Ochoa suffered an automobile incident in which an unknown car blocked her passage when driving back home. Afraid for her safety, she changed her route and went to find Mario Luna. When they got home, they found the front door open, despite having locked it. They entered the house with police escort but did not detect missing objects.

In February of 2016 Carlos Luna, son of Mario, was thrown off his motorcycle by men who surrounded him in a van. He suffered injuries to his face and body. The investigation this incident did not advance further.  As a result of this incident Mario Luna decided to call upon the Mechanism of Protection and the IACHR requested the Mexican government to implement precautionary measures.

Recommendations for Mexican authorities:

Immediate and effective implementation of adequate protection measures to ensure the integrity of Mario Luna and his family, in compliance with the precautionary measures requested by the IACHR. Federal and state authorities must effectively coordinate to ensure the implementation of these measures, which must be taken with the participation and consent of the beneficiaries.

Carry out a full and independent investigation into the incident of June 23 and previous incidents against Mario Luna and his family, and hold all those responsible accountable.

To make a public acknowledgment of the legitimate and valuable work that Mario Luna and the traditional authorities of the Vicam Pueblo perform, making it clear that no new attacks will be tolerated against him. 

Key recipients: 

Government Secretary:
Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
Ministry of the Interior
Bucareli 99, Colonia Juárez, Cuauhtémoc Delegation
Mexico City, Mexico, C.P. 06600
Twitter: @osoriochon
Email via website:,%20Tribu%20Yaqui,%20Estado%20de%20Sonora&site=segob

Governor of the State of Sonora:
Claudia Pavlovich Arellano
Government Palace
Comonfort and Dr. Paliza S / N, Colonia Centenario
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, C.P. 83260
Phone: +52 662 289 3800
Twitter: @claudiapavlovic
Email via website: 

Secretary of Foreign Affairs:
Luis Videgaray Caso
Secretary of Foreign Relations
Plaza Juárez 20, Colonia Centro
Mexico City, Mexico, C.P. 06010
Phone: +52 55 3686 5100/5581
Twitter: @LVidegaray

Email via website: 20of% 20Daily% 20Humans% 20a% 20favor% 20of% 20Mario% 20Luna,% 20Tribe%20Yaqui,% 20Sonora & site = sre 

Messages of solidarity:  Mario Luna can receive messages of solidarity at this email address: 

For more information, contact 
Cellular (+52 1) 55 3500 4793:

Date of publication: 6 July 2017

Translation: TONATIERRA

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