Tensions Rise Between Huicholes, Rancheros Over Rights to Ancestral Lands
Miguel Vázquez Torres, the Wixarika leader most responsible for mobilizing an effort to reclaim 10,000 hectares of ancestral lands, shows the vast expanse of lands belonging to San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlan. He and his brother, Agustín, a young attorney also active in the land restitution project were both gunned down last May. (Nelson Denman)
Tensions are rising in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains of Huajimic, Nayarit, where indigenous Huichol people are locked in a bitter dispute with cattle ranchers over who owns 10,000 hectares of alleged ancestral lands.
There were fears that the disagreement could reach a boiling point when a court order returning part of the lands to the Huichol community is due to be executed today.
For several years, the indigenous people, also known as Wixáritari, have been trying to remove the ranchers from the land, arguing that they have a title that proves their ownership. The title, they say, dates back to 1718 when Mexico was still known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
But despite their claim, a report in a local newspaper says that nobody has seen it.
On the other hand, there are documents that show that ranchers legally acquired the land, the report said.
In spite of that, the Huichol community won a court order that would see 66 hectares of the land returned to them tomorrow but the Nayarit state government — in a move backed by the ranchers — is seeking its cancellation.
Members of the Huichol community have fought hard to obtain the edict since they were evicted from the lands on September 22 last year and consequently won’t give it up without a fight.
Read the rest at Mexico News Daily
Related: Indigenous Land Conflicts Finally Garner Attention in Argentina (Inter Press Service)
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