López Obrador Returns Lands to the Yaquis Indigenous GroupBy Paloma Duran | Tue, 10/05/2021 - 10:25
President López Obrador has granted an official apology to the Yaquis indigenous group for the crimes committed by authorities against them. In addition, López Obrador has returned lands to the group in an attempt to deliver justice and repair the damage caused over decades.
On Sept. 29, López Obrador apologized to the Yaqui indigenous group for the marginalization, abuses and injustices they have suffered since the time of the Porfiriato (1884-1911), when the expropriation of their lands for industrial use was approved. Since then, the Yaquis have constantly fought against projects such as the Construction of the Independence Aqueduct, which has caused water shortages in their communities, and mining concessions that have affected their resources.
President López Obrador announced that the government was reviewing landowner agreements as it aims to return resources to the indigenous group. "We are reviewing all the lands to see how much was taken. Ejidos are social properties that were established long ago and must be respected. We are not going to expropriate land; what we are planning is to build an aqueduct to improve their access to water.”
This week, López Obrador officially returned around 2,943ha in lands that encompass the municipalities of Guaymas, Cajeme, Empalme and San Ignacio Rio Muerto in Sonora. The Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development was the entity in charge of determining the number of hectares. The Ministry explained that it chose to deliver around 2,943ha because they were located in areas that lack private or social property title and therefore, can be handed over to the Yaqui people. The properties delivered will be used, exploited and administered in accordance with the customs of the Yaqui people, according to the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF).
The situation of the Yaquis began to get complicated during the government of Porfirio Díaz, especially since Jan. 10, 1997, when the expropriation of an area greater than 2,688ha from the Yaqui community was published in the DOF. Since the situation of the Yaquis had not been effectively addressed during previous administrations, in 2019 President López Obrador announced the development and implementation of a justice plan.
The justice plan seeks to carry out reparation actions programmed to be ready by 2023, one year before the end of López Obrador's mandate. The president stressed that the comprehensive justice plan seeks to cede up to 20,000 ha, in addition to implementing legal actions and works to guarantee the right to water and promote social development, which will have a budget of MX$6 billion (US$292.4 million).