Mexican police find dead body of indigenous activist

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MEXICO CITY (AP) – Prosecutors in the border state of Sonora, northern Mexico, said Thursday they found a rotting corpse with clothes that match the description of an indigenous rights leader who went missing there is almost three weeks old.

The prosecutor’s office said DNA tests would be carried out on the body found half-buried in a rural area to determine whether it was that of Tomás Rojo Valencia, a leader of the indigenous Yaqui community.

“At the scene, several pieces of evidence, including clothing, were collected that match what his family said Tomás Rojo wore on the day he left his house, in particular a red scarf around his neck,” the office said in a statement.

The body was found in a semi-desert area near the Yaqui town of Vicam by a local person who was collecting firewood.

Coming the same day two journalists were found murdered, the discovery of what appears to be leader Yaqui’s corpse is bad news for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been criticized for his hostility towards journalists and his inability to protect them.

The discovery of what appears to be Rojo Valencia’s body will be a particularly hard blow to the president, who has made it his special project to bring justice to the Yaquis, whom he has described as the most persecuted indigenous group in Mexico.

Rojo Valencia has been the spokesperson for the Yaquis in past conflicts over land and water rights.

He disappeared on May 27 amid tensions over roadblocks on the Yaqui Expressway to protest gas pipes, water pipes and railway lines that have passed through their ancestral territory without consulting them or their give a lot of benefits.

In February, the conflict over roadblocks came to a head with the death of an Indigenous man killed when a truck driver passed through a Yaqui roadblock, striking a member of the group.

Businessmen and truckers in Sonora state complain that roadblocks seriously affect the flow of raw materials and export goods, and said protesters are sometimes abusive or demand money for allow them to pass.

Intermittent roadblocks affected the main road that leads to the industrial center of Hermosillo, and from there to the US border. The route is essential for the import and export of automobiles and auto parts, electronics, and other goods.

Perhaps best known abroad for the mystical and visionary powers attributed to them by writer Carlos Castaneda, the Yaquis stubbornly fought the Mexican government’s brutal campaign to eliminate the tribe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 1900.

But they were largely defeated by 1900, and dictator Porfirio Diaz began moving them from their fertile farmlands to less valuable land or virtual enslavement on haciendas as far away as the Far Eastern state of Yucatan.

In 2020, López Obrador visited Yaqui territory for the establishment of the Yaqui People’s Justice Commission, and he said he plans to apologize on behalf of the government for the genocidal war waged against them. .

The commission promised housing, development projects and a greater voice for impoverished Yaqui communities, but some Yaquis are not participating in the talks and the deal has failed to quell protests, which sometimes demand large compensation.

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