Protection for Indigenous Peoples Runs Up Against Hurdles in Mexico
Emilio Godoy - IPS News Agency
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February 15, 2023

HUICHOLES: THE LAST PEYOTE GUARDIANS is a story about the mystical Wixárika People, one of the last pre-Hispanic alive cultures in Latin America, and their ongoing struggle against the Mexican government and multinational mining corporations to preserve Wirikuta, their most sacred territory and home of the famous peyote cactus. (HuicholesFilm)

Abandonment of ceremonies, lack of legal protection and budget, as well as poverty, violence and environmental damage undermine the application of the Mexican government’s Justice Plan for the Wixárika, Na’ayeri and O’dam peoples, who are from the states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí.

Ancestral territory is a fundamental element for native groups, and without it the exercise of their rights is limited. For this reason, five communities in the states of Durango, Jalisco and Nayarit have denounced the invasion of 91,796 hectares of land of which they say they were dispossessed by third parties.

In these same states, eight communities are demanding the adequate execution of judicial sentences and presidential resolutions for the recognition and titling of 23,351 hectares.

In addition, 27 communities maintain conflicts over the limits of communal “ejido” lands in this area and another 15 are engaged in border disputes between the states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas.

The question of territory has an impact on the sacred sites. For example, Xapawiyemeta, located on Lake Chapala in Jalisco, only measures 377 square meters due to the reduction of the original site. In the north-central state of San Luis Potosí, the Wixárika people have 140,212 hectares under protection, but suffer from mining concessions and large-scale tomato and chili pepper production.

Three copper, gold, silver and zinc mines operate in the Wixárika zone and another five projects are in the exploration phase in San Luis Potosí. In this state and in Zacatecas, there are 203 mining concessions.

But some native communities have set conditions for participating. For example, San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán, in the municipality of Mezquitic in Jalisco, will participate when 10,500 hectares are returned to it. Meanwhile, the Bancos de San Hipólito community, in Durango, is about to recover 10,720 hectares, in compliance with a 2008 court ruling.

Constitutional Reform – A Bogged-Down Promise

However, the government initiative for constitutional reform on the rights of indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples, also drafted in 2021, has not advanced in the legislature.

But the measures contain contradictions. In the south and southeast of the country, the government is building the Mayan Train, the administration’s flagship megaproject, which has brought it into confrontation with native Mayan groups in that area.

In fact, the office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the indigenous consultation undertaken by the Mexican government in 2019 failed to comply with international standards.

In the southern state of Oaxaca, the government is pushing for an industrial corridor to connect the Pacific coast with the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic, which has brought it to loggerheads with indigenous populations in the area.

Read the rest at IPS News Agency

Related: Mining, Peyote Seekers Threaten the Wixárika’s Centuries-Old Culture (Mexico News Daily)

Related: Indigenous Peoples in Mexico Defend Their Right to Water (IPS)

Related: Huichol, or Wixáritari, Art Has Roots in Jalisco (Out & About Puerto Vallarta)

Related: Indigenous Women in Mexico Take United Stance Against Inequality (IPS)

  Learn about Peyote People

  Learn about The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival

  Learn about Casa Huichol

  Learn about Costa Verde Cultural Center (CVCC)

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