Death of indigenous leader in Chihuahua sparks demands for investigation subject logo: MEX2013
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By Chris Covert

The death of an apparent indigenous Indian leader has moved the heads of several indigenous communities to demand investigation of that crime and several others involving indigenous Indians victims in the region of Sierra Tarahumara, according to Mexican news accounts.

According to a news report which appeared on the website of El Diario de Chihuahua and La Polaka news dailies and data which appeared in a Facebook page operated by the forum, a forum was held in Ciudad Juarez city late last week named the IV Pueblos originarios de la Sierra Tarahumara en Defensa de Nuestros Territoriosm or Indigenous People of the Sierra Tarahumara in Defense of Our territory held in Ciudad Juarez which demanded government action against drug and local criminal gangs they say are responsible for several murders and other violence in the region against indigenous peoples.

Last week's victim, Jaime Ayala Subia Socorro Ramos Ceballos was killed in armed confrontations with local drug gangs near the village of Choreachi in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality in southern Chihuahua.

According to data supplied by Indian chief Lorenzo Moreno Pajarito and two others identified as Emilio Enriquez Cruz and Alfonso Molina, local drug gangs are killing indigenous people and intimidating their families with violence, whenever they resist against illegal logging taking place on Indian land, specifically in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality, and in Mogotavo as well as in Barrancas del Cobre, also known as Copper Canyon. The forum was held to present their demands to the Chihuahua state government that the government do something about the violence and encroachment, by both the government and private companies on ancestral Indian lands. Among the pueblos signing or supporting the petition were the Tarahumaras, Warojios, Odame and Yaquis, from Sonora and Chihuahua states.

The petition expressed fears that ongoing violence at the hands of local criminal gangs will force indigenous peoples away from their tribal lands and customs, and "send them to the cliffs".

That last statement was a stark reminder of an event in the Sierra Tarahumara region in which it was reported that several Tarahumara Indians had committed suicide by jumping off cliffs, because of the lack of food available to care for their families. That charge was made in a television interview in January of 2012 by local peasant leader, Ramon Gardea, who claimed that as many as 50 Tarahumara Indians had committed suicide by throwing themselves off cliffs to their deaths. The report was dismissed by Chihuahua state government officials, and indeed, no bodies were ever found that would support the account.

The El Diario de Chihuahua account said that teachers had left the Sierra Tarahumara region because of the murder of a boy named Jaime Zubias Cevallos September 6th, and the murder of Ayala Socorro Ramos the next month, November 6th, and the fear is more will do so if violence and the threat of violence continues.

Indigenous peoples were being warned away from the region so that forests can be exploited, according to the account.

Two other leaders in Choreachi, Angel Manchado Ramos and Prudencio Ramos Ramos, said that they and their extended families have been threatened and intimidated them, including the use of written threats and by putting them under pursuit.

Individuals from Chihuahua municipalities of Bocoyna, Temoris, Batopilas, as well as other states, have been sent to the area to harvest forests but have been prevented so far.

The concerns expressed by Mexican Indian tribes highlights the extent of the Mexican national government clampdown on reported acts of violence in Mexico. No account of the murder of either of the two victims who had died since September 6th has been reported by the Chihuahua state Fiscalia General del Estado or attorney general, asd would be de riguer in such instances. Mexican press relies heavily on local attorneys general for crime information.

Only last week it was revealed that drug related murders would not be included in subsequent statistical reports by the federal government in order to give a much better account of what is happening than the actual reality.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and

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