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Indigenous Mexicans Risk Their Lives To Defend The Environment

Tamara Pearson

In a nation where much of the land is still communal property, US, Canadian, and European corporations are partnering with cartels to seize land and resource rights through terror and violence against Indigenous communities and activists..."In the Central-North of Mexico, the Wixárika people own and look after 140,000 hectares of land. And yet, without their permission, copper, gold, silver, and zinc mines are currently in operation on those lands, and a further five mines are in the exploration stage. Original peoples have spent thousands of years on the land,” Jorge Salinas Jardón, a union activist, friend of Ricardo Lagunes, and member of the Indigenous Matlazinca community, which has now practically disappeared, told TRNN. “So when the land is threatened, they will defend it with their lives... With real estate companies looking to buy ejido land, the Otomies have had to defend communal land, including the site where their ceremonial center is. “When we planted trees, they pulled them out. When we organize to clean up the area, they come and throw rubbish everywhere, including dead animals,” Hernandez said. “They hate us Indigenous peoples because we feel like we are part of nature,” she told TRNN, also describing how, with the influx of transnational companies into the area, organized crime has also increased... “Organized crime is increasing in Mexico, particularly in Indigenous regions,” warned Carlos Gonzalez, a land rights lawyer with the National Indigenous Council. He said such activity was part of the “systemic destruction of the collective ownership of the land.”   Ejido land owners in the state of Sonora have waged legal battles against Penmont, the open-pit gold mine in Sonoro, since 2011. The mine is using up local water and contaminating the soil with cyanide and arsenic... And in the North, 20 Yaqui people were reportedly killed or disappeared in 2021.